Sunday, 26 August 2012

Are holidays (and travelling to them) more stressful now?

I remember flying abroad when I was a child.  Those memories are vastly different to the flight we take every year for holidays now with our own children. Are we more demanding or has the whole holiday experience become something different?

When I was young, my dad worked very hard and did a second job in order for us to have holidays.  I remember the excitement of going away - whether it was to Devon or abroad.

If we went to Devon, invariably staying in a caravan or, occasionally, a chalet, I would be woken up around 2am, dressed in the dark and plonked in the car ready for the journey.  Why on earth my parents always left for Devon in the middle of the night is a total mystery.  I know there were less motorways then but surely it didn't that *that* much longer to drive the distance?

Another quirk of driving to our holiday destination was me asking dad to 'go a bit faster' and sometimes even wanting him to 'over-take'.  This rarely happened.  I am sure my dad drove at a very sensible pace but I have this vivid memory of my mum saying about anyone who overtook us "We will get there before them anyway." How she calculated this was beyond me. They were driving faster than us and overtaking various other cars so how would we get their first. Was it a 'Hare and Tortoise' thing?  Was she sure that everyone who drove faster had to stop somewhere on route for a long picnic and then we would come trundling past? I don't think I'll ever understand her logic but it makes me smile to think of her saying that even today.

Our Devon holidays were relaxing. We sat in the sunshine (it was always sunny you know), found crabs and little fish in rock pools, walked around cliffs and had fish & chip suppers.  We didn't eat out often as it wasn't really the done thing then but we would all dress up for the occasional meal out.  In fact, I remember us all being dressed to the nines to go to a Harvester for dinner!

When we went abroad, this was an even more exciting adventure.  The whole household would be buzzing weeks before the holiday was due.   I am sure mum probably starting ironing and packing about a month in advance!

The day before the flight I would hardly sleep.  It was almost as exciting as Christmas.  The morning of our trip we would be up early and dressed up. Yes, I do mean 'dressed up'.  Dad *always* wore a suit and tie on the plane!  Mum would wear a smart outfit and I would be in some kind of dress or nice trousers.  Our family would never have dreamed of getting onto an aircraft in jeans.

The flight was exciting. There was no TV or video games.  I would play 'word search' with dad or we'd get the cards out and play Crib (I was taught that very young), snap, etc.  Newspapers and magazines were read and colouring was done.

Mum and dad both smoked so sometimes we had the first row of smoking on the flight or the last row of no-smoking so they could just take turns to walk backwards for a cigarette.  Yes, smoking on aircraft. Can you imagine how revolting that was?  What makes me laugh on reflection was that you had a certain number of 'smoking rows' on the plane straight behind the 'non-smoking' section.  So, basically, the seats behind you could be puffing away 20 to the dozen and you'd be in front in no-smoking inhaling more than the occupants behind you were. There was no 'barrier' between the seats. No glass section that slid down to stop the rest of the plane being contaminated.  For me, as an asthmatic, it wasn't always the best of things.  However, my parents did buy little fans that were battery operated to try and keep the smoke away from me.  It was a different ethos back then you know ;-)

When we arrived at our destination, we more often than not, departed the plane to get onto a coach to run us 200 yards into the airport terminal, where we got off the bus, went through passport control (where you got your passport stamped in pretty much every country you visited which was nice) and off to collect the baggage.  Bag spotting was something I loved to do with my dad while mum stayed with the trolley.  Once we'd collected them, off we went onto another coach to be driven around most of the country we were visiting until we were dropped off at our hotel, often at night.

Again, holidays were relaxing.  Playing on the beach or by the pool all day, stopping for a light lunch at the hotel (we never went self-catering) and then up to the room at the end of the day to get washed and changed before going out for a walk around the town and getting dinner, normally at the hotel again.

What is is like now?

The children are excited about their holiday but not to the point they don't sleep. It's like they take it in their stride.  S often says "Where are we going on holiday next year?" like it's an acceptable part of life that you just *have* holidays.

Hubby and I tolerate every part of the travelling from the airport check-in to getting off the plane at our destination.  We don't enjoy it though.  Our children are pretty good on aircraft. We have bought a portable DVD player and a couple of sets of headphones for them and we take a selection of their favourite films and TV programmes.  This often means switching between discs every 15-20 mins but if it keeps them quiet that's just fine. We take crayons and paper or colouring books and lots of 'treat' foods to bribe them (yes it's bad but it's only a few hours a couple of times a year).

The last time we truly enjoyed flying was when we went away a few times before having the girls and flew upper class with Virgin and had a ball in the lounge and on the flight.  We can't afford that nonsense now ;-)

Perhaps it's just that it is so crowded at the airports now.  Finding a place to sit and have a little time is hard work.  The whole place is geared up for you spending money, not entertaining your children or relaxing.

How things have changed.  Do you enjoy your holiday travelling or have you noticed a difference that is making it less fun now?

Saturday, 25 August 2012

But it's only a pair of shoes, not a Rolex!

We did the 'back to school shoe run' yesterday.  This mainly involves heading off to a fairly local Mothercare that contains a Clarks shoe shop and queuing, liking lots of shoes, getting stuck with one pair that are the right size that we've bought 5 times before and then paying a fortune for them.  Adding insult to injury is normally the fact that we're then also offered some kind of cleaner/spray/wax to add on to the already exhorbitant price we're paying.  You know that feeling right?

Yesterday we decided that we would get to the shop early. Now, we have a large Clarks store in town which is about 1.5 miles from our house but we don't go there.  Why?  Well, they open at 9.30am as that's the time the shopping centre opens (lazy or what!) *but* they rarely seem to open on time.  The last time I was there, it was 9.45am before they finally opened the shutters and I had already called out to a bunch of people milling around inside to see if they were actually going to open to be told they were waiting for another member of staff who was running late. How shoddy is that?  

So, we head off about 8 miles away to our local Mothercare that contains a teeny-tiny Clarks bit but they are always on time and seem to, ironically, have more choice. Go figure.

So, we are sitting in the car in the car park at 8.45am as we'd managed to arrive a bit too early.  Suddenly two more cars with children turned up so I suggested to hubby we decamp and stand by the door. I'm not daft when it comes to this stuff you know ;-)  We did so, and were quickly joined by another 4 mums with varying amounts of children and we all got chatting about the school shoe shop.  Seems they had the same idea too.

Doors opened at 9am and off we went to the Clarks bit.  We were first in - yippee!  I said we needed feet measured and new shoes plus trainers.  Did we have socks the lady asked?  Oh heck, no.  It had been warm out and the girls were in sandals with no socks.  Also, if I'm totally honest [whispers] I knew the girls shoes were too small and was hoping sandals would see us through this so-called summer *whistles*

Fortunately they had socks so S was first to go.  Would you believe that the amount of walking we do and the weather lately, even in sandals, has made them smell so she has smelly tooties.  How I'd love to be a shoe fitter - not!  Feet measured and I breathed a sigh of relief. She's only 1/2 size bigger.  I'm not such a bad mum after all.  I pointed out the trainers that we needed - same as last time - and then S chose some shoes she liked and the lady went and got them all. S has a high instep so sometimes, despite the correct size, shoes (and often boots in winter) won't fit her feet.  Fortunately the ones we all loved (aren't they pretty?) were just fine so that was her sorted :)

N was next.   Her feet have grown 1 1/2 sizes.  Oops!  No wonder her toes were sticking out from her sandals. Oh well, at least they were opened toed ones ;-)  I would have liked her to have the same shoes as S as they are so cute and also pretty so brilliant for parties (which we have a lot of coming up), but unfortunately they just did not fit her feet. Again, she has a high instep but apparently more so than her sister. The lady had brought a variety of shoes out and she picked some she liked which, I'm pleased to say, did fit.  Also, the added advantage was they had buckles as very often we hear the velcro being opened in the back of the car and her sandals are thrown away.  Here are her cute shoes which have little flashing lights in the heels too which she loves.

I did look at some Doodles sneaker type shoes for her but hubby and I decided she didn't really need them. I then considered some winter boots which I thought were gorgeous (they didn't have many to try) but she flung off saying "No".  Hubby again said we probably didn't need fur-lined boots just yet. OK, so I was on a shoe buying frenzy really wasn't I.

All done and dusted and we went to the till. Both girls eager to carry their new shoes.  £83.  I nearly fell over. Why I am constantly shocked is a mystery but it still amazes me that often the girls shoes cost more than mine do!  Having said that, I keep all the girls first shoes and looking back on J's from 13 years ago, they were from Clarks and cost £28 then so I guess nothing has changed - they've always been pricey.

The girls wanted their new shoes on as soon as we got home so socks on and they could wear them.  We don't normally wear shoes in the house but today was special and they wore them until bedtime. In fact, they wanted to put them on after I'd changed them into their PJs but I drew the line at that ;-)

If you're off school shoe buying - good luck!  I hope you don't have to wait too long.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Humble Hike

This post is probably going to be a multi-post as I think it will take us a while to complete this caching ring!

The Humble Hike is around 11 miles long and follows bridleways and footpaths around the River Mole, Polesden Lacey and Bocketts Farm via West Humble.  With S walking with us, I suspect it will become a 3 or 4 cache day event.

Today (19th August), the sun was out, the weather forecast was 30C and sunshine, sunshine, sunshine...

Off we went, small picnic in hand and headed off to some parking near #4 as I thought this was a nice point and we could chose which way we wanted to go round.  Parked up and away we went.  What is it about the beginning of ANY footpath that seems to be 'dog poo alley'?  There were adequate poop bins everywhere so it's really a poor show.   If you let your dog poo there, you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself!

Anyway, today was the day I was taking my new green spiderpodium out for the first time :)  Can you spot it?

Upon emerging from the poo, we turned left and decided it would be nice to walk up towards Bocketts Farm Park.  Our first cache of the day was to be #4, a nice quick find for S which hubby carried her to and from so she could avoid any stingy things.  One delighted little girl.

Being watched by Sheep
We got to near #3 and realised that we were on a parallel footpath to where the cache was. Rather than walking back and then 30m across to the other one, we aimed to pick it up on our way back.

#2 was a nice quick find for S.  As it was one of the larger containers on this route, I decided to leave a toy and a Travel Bug.  I was busy putting these things in on the main footpath when suddenly muggles appeared from everywhere!  Hubby had given a 'muggle' shout but it was too late, there was nowhere for me to go.  They peered at me crouched down by the pushchair stuffing the log back into the cache as they walked past.  "Morning" we all said and they carried on.  I wonder what they thought I was up to :)

We had to back-track slightly to get #1 and as this was an 'ivy covered tree' I sent hubby 'up' to find it.  This was totally unnecessary as it was just above my head and easy to reach but I wasn't going to tackle ivy today ;-)  A loud rumble was heard a way off.  Wonder what it could be?  A few horses and riders went past as we were admiring the landscape.  Gorgeous rolling hills and trees all around.

Shouts of hungry were going up so we stopped at #51 which was a small Memorial commemorating 50 years since the end of WWII.  It also provided a great little seat upon which to have our small picnic.  There was another rumble.  Thunder.  Looking back from where we had come, the sky had gone rather black and the rumbles were coming faster, along with the odd flash in the sky.  Picnic done, we aimed to walk down to Bocketts and have an ice cream en route to the next few caches we were planning to do today.  Plop!  A huge raindrop hit the ground.  We'd better move a bit quicker. Plop, plop!  Oh dear. No coats, only sun hats and 1 small umbrella.  We took a fairly quick walk down the hill and as we rounded the slight bend to Bocketts car park, the heavens opened.  It absolutely poured down as we ran for the cafe and some shelter. In we went, slightly wet, and sat down to have an ice cream inside while the rain hammered down outside.  Looks like we are going to get wet getting back to the car.  

After a 10 minute break, the rain almost stopped and we headed back out to try and see if we could find the footpath going 'through' part of Bocketts. Unfortunately we took a wrong turning and with the rain still splashing about a bit, decided to call it a day and head back just in case another downpour was imminent.  We picked up #50 as we went back up the road and headed back the way we had come to collect #3.

Taking the right footpath this time, #3 was soon found by S and signed.   

Back we walked to the car.  Hubby is off later this week so we are planning to do some more of this hike.  The paths seem good and wide and the views (so far) have been very nice indeed.

So, off we go on this trail again on 22nd August.  Parking up at the same spot, we headed off in the opposite direction.  As #5 is disabled at the moment (you can clearly see where it should be) we went straight for #6. A quick find and away we went, weaving around the horse poo with the pushchair ;-)

#7 was on the path heading up towards Polesden Lacey - an area we were beginning to know well now.  A nice quick find that hubby spotted but S made the retrieve/replace with daddy's help as it was up high. She was delighted with this. N was working her way through her puffs at this point (do you see a pattern here?).

Up the path we went to #8.  I was feeling a bit odd at this point. Kind of dizzy like I'd just got off a roundabout. Hubby suggested I have a cookie that we'd packed up as he wondered if my blood sugar was a bit low, although heaven knows why that would be.  I agreed and started munching on said snack whilst he headed off into the undergrowth.  Quite a number of suspects he explored but no cache to hand. Not suitable for S to look too, despite her protests, as she only had shorts and sandals on and there were a lot of nettles and brambles.  I was directing hubby but he seemed to be wandering around a bit as he just couldn't find it.  He decided that was enough time there (about 15 minutes had passed) and we should give up with that one. Hang on I said, I'd not even looked yet!  Off I wandered and found it, first place I'd looked.  Big up for the cache-mamma ;-)  Left a little toy and a TB to carry on it's journey and S took a tiny toy to play with.  N was now busy with her cookie. No shouts and complaints about being in the pushchair. Just munching away :)  We went past a field full of young calves which N and S both 'moo-d' at.

Up the hill we headed to #9.  S found this one all on her own at the side of a car park.  We had checked the area first I hasten to add as it's another of those places where dogs really didn't stray far to do their business. Shame.  Quick retrieve and replace just as another car was heading in.

I was feeling distinctly dodgy at this point and almost like I was about to pass out.  Other than the dizziness, I was fine. Really strange. Hubby was getting a bit panicky so we decided to walk past #10 and sit at the edge of the field and have something proper to eat from our picnic.  We spread the blanket and had a nice little lunch.  A few dogs came along with their owners and S decided to have a panic, despite the fact that they were just having a little sniff around and the owners had said they were quite friendly. Suddenly she started to scream so hubby picked her up quickly and then N started too.  Goodness me, how were we going to sort this out?  The ladies walking the dogs said they were off to round up the cows and calves we had just seen in the fields and would we like to watch.  I thought this would be great by S was near hysterical at this point so we thanked them and declined.  She calmed down once the dogs were gone but with me feeling ill and S's outburst again, hubby said we should call it a day. Wise idea.  I did just pop into the woods and get #10 before we left though ;-)  Well, we were right beside it.

23rd August and back we come. Today I'm feeling just fine and we're out early so hope we won't encounter too many dogs for S to deal with.  We parked up in the free car park we'd found yesterday when caching here and walked around the wheat field to get to #11.  The wheat was ready and a combine harvester was sitting at the edge about to start cutting it down.  The cache itself was a quick find for S so a good start.

A horse rider went past us with her dog running with them and S was just fine. In fact I don't think she even noticed the dog!  

Off through the woods we went in search of #12. This was another nice, easy find for S and she then declared that we had said we would come out and find 2 caches then go to the 'flower garden' (also known as RHS Wisley).  We said that was fine but we'd like to find a few more then go to the gardens for our picnic.  She reluctantly agreed.  To think we have to barter with a 3 1/2 year old!  I would say she adores Wisley as she loves the flowers and, more to the point, the fact that there are no dogs allowed.  She likes being able to run around on the fields there and roll down the hills - something we don't let her do normally as you can understand.  The worse she'll roll in at Wisley is a bit of duck or pigeon poo! ;-)

So, having convinced her that we were going around in a circle back to the car (ok, so it would be quite a big one) we headed off for #13.  Hubby headed in to start the search with S.  However, he couldn't find it.  I went and joined them, wheeling N so she could watch us.  No, nothing.  We stood back on the path after about 10 minutes and looked around. "Is that it?" I said to hubby.  "What?" he replied.  "That cache on the ground by the tree".  Oh yes. There it was, right in front of us, totally exposed. We took nothing but left a little toy and put it back covered up a bit more.  S wanted to know if we were going back to the car yet.  Yes, we were but this way, come on....

At #14 there was a bit of barbed wire so hubby did the initial scouting.   At the place it looked like it should be was a group of flints but nothing beneath. Had it gone? A little more looking around both ways and it was in hand.  S was allowed to do the retrieve carefully and put it back.  Down the slope we went to the next one. This was a gorgeous walk with lots of fields and woodland.

#15 was on the way up quite a long hill we were going to negotiate.  Hubby went for the cache and quickly located it but GZ seemed a bit out, probably due to tree coverage.  The hill had a gully in the middle, roots and lots of large pieces of flint which made pushing the pushchair a bit of hard work. Hubby took over and it took some lifting as well to get N up there.  It wasn't easy going at all, even with the big wheels our pushchair has.  S was asking about going to the gardens again so we looked at the map and realised we were back to the main road at the top of the hill going around Polesden Lacey. So, rather than carry on, we decided to call it a day and head back to the car by the easy route and come back another day to do yet more of this lovely ring.

As we walked past a field of cows and calves, I was surprised to see people walking through it.  For some reason I had always assumed that you should not walk through cows and calves together as the cows can get very protective and I've heard of someone being trampled to death.  I have to say, they were braver people than me, especially as the gate they were heading to near where we were was surrounded by animals.

We went back past the wheat field and the combine harvester was now in action cutting it all down which gave us an opportunity to talk to S about how it is cut, what it is all used for and what it's made into.  She was fascinated by this and is looking forward to seeing how the field looks next time we come up here.

Monday, 13 August 2012

My First First!

Woo-hoo, finally I got there. I have my first ever First to Find (FTF) geocaching.

I opened my email this morning to check if I had successfully claimed my first Earthcache yesterday (yes. That's great news then) and noticed a new cache (Crazies II) had been placed just down the road from me.  Hubby was home so no having to pack the two little ones into the car and J was here so I had some caching company.  All good.

The shout went up "Come on J, get dressed, we're out of here in 2 minutes to see if we can get a first to find!".  Now my daughter, as a teen, is not the fastest person at getting ready for anything, but on this occasion she had eaten her piece of toast, drunk a cup of tea and was dressed in less than a minute. About the same time it took me to run upstairs, throw clothes on and quickly brush my teeth.  We had been sitting relaxing in our dressing gowns you see ;-)

Off we went in the car. We had precisely 30 minutes to get to the location, find the cache and get home to pick up hubby and the girls before we had to be at the dentist.  Not pushing it then...

We parked up as close as we could and jumped out of the car. I think I almost sprinted to GZ.  Great news, no-one here and nothing logged - yet!  I suddenly realised that J hadn't even had time to brush her hair. Now that is dedication to your mum to leave the house looking like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards. Love that girl! :)

We started our search.  We had some ideas.  We looked up, down, under and in but nothing came to hand. Bugger, time to go.

A race back home, piled everyone into the car and off to the dentist. Arrived 5 minutes late (oops) but had to wait 5 minutes to go in so that was fine.  Me done.  Hubby done.  Back in the car and straight off to see if we could find this cache. I wasn't really in a hurry *cough*

Anyway, parked up again, the fastest pushchair put-together you've ever witnessed and sprinted back to the suspected GZ.  Still no logs showing up so optimistic. Hubby began the search where I had been but the compass was now having a bit of a merry jig so I pocketed the phone and decided to just root around a reasonable sized area.  I also decided to let hubby do the 'bramble dance' while I went and looked elsewhere.

A spot of something I had not investigated earlier and ta-da!, the cache was mine!  Brilliant :) I can honestly say I was ecstatic.

I came so close once before to being FTF. In actual fact, I thought I was by the logs on my phone but it wasn't until I opened the cache box, full of excitement, to see that I was in fact 2nd.  So this was it.  Blank log book and blank phone. This one was truly mine!

Once it was all signed, we let the girls have a go in the little playground nearby.  It was at this point I noticed I had put my top on inside out in my rush to leave the house this morning. What must my dentist have thought?!

I am glad that I got a FTF as it is now out of my system. I don't know why, but I wanted one. I'm not bothered about any more as rarely does it pan out that I could get out of the house and anywhere fast enough. This was pure luck that it arrived when it did and it's made my day :)

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Kiddie friendly caching

Today we headed out to have a little walk around some child friendly caches.  The CO had said that they placed them to be of interest to children and not just the usual 35mm film canister type.  That interested us as although the girls are delighted to find any type of cache (and I'm certainly not knocking the good ol' film canister), something with a bit more thought really appeals.  

I would say this entire blog is one big spoiler!  So, if you want a surprise, don't read any further or look at the pictures! You have been warned ;-)

We parked up near Swinley Timber in Bracknell. The ring was around here and only a mile long so idea for even the smallest of legs! :)  Also the track you walked around was suitable for our 3 wheel pushchair with no stiles or narrow stretches where we're balancing it on the front wheel only (yes, we've done that).  The only downside to this area is the abundance of mosquitoes.  They are absolutely everywhere and to say I have been well and truly bitten is an understatement. Today I was in shorts so they've decided to eat my legs which were covered when we last came to Swinley Forest.  Oh well, at least my Elephant Man appearance is improving.  I don't think I've ever had so many lumps and bumps on my body (I'm clearly allergic to whatever the little buggers pump in to stop you noticing them).

Our first cache was called Summer Holiday 1 - Home for a Tree Elf in the Ivy? No signal on the phone so just the compass to guide us.  The GPS was a little off and we found ourselves in the car park of the timber merchants with no ivy to be seen. Hubby and teen had a little amble off route and within a few minutes a shout went up.  Myself, S and N wandered out of the car park and around the corner.  J was standing by an ivy covered tree and beckoned S over and she was absolutely delighted with what she saw :) I do wonder if she expected to find an Elf inside too though ;-)

A promising start and a favourite point awarded.  We signed the log and then headed off to Summer Holiday 2 - Fire Wood?  This cache was just under 200m away so the girls and hubby went ahead as I came along with N, who was already wanting a sandwich (our girls always expect a sandwich and fruit now whenever we go caching - no matter what time of day!).  We arrived at GZ and spotted a likely candidate straight away.  S and J went in for a better look and the cache was soon in hand.  J thought this was excellent.  I then noticed that other cachers had been here today as well and looking at their logs this evening, the mozzies were bothering them too (I'm pleased to say as we thought it was just us!).

Off we went down a bumpy, wide grass area to Summer Holiday 3 - All tied up.  As we narrowed in on the area, hubby J and S went to try and find the cache. A little rustling in the undergrowth and then a "There it is!" rang out.  Again, S was delighted with this one and did the retrieve herself with my help.  

The cache container is attached to a string which is over a branch and hooked onto a little lower branch that sticks out.  S unhooked it and lowered the container to the ground.  A buzzing noise was around us and at that point she screamed and ran back to hubby.  Too late for me, another bite on my legs. Oh well, what's another one when you already have 5?  I took the contents back to the pushchair to sign and then did the replace alone. No-one wanted to come back to mozzie land with me :(

Away we went to get Summer Holiday 4 - We're going on a Bear Hunt.  Again, hubby, J and S went in for the find and J spotted it.  Hubby and I swapped places as I'd been swatting mozzies away from N as she munched her biscuit.  I went in and signed the log as J had made the retrieve. S's arms weren't long enough, even with the rod.  She loved the little bear though.

While I was trying to sign, the whining noise was right by my ear as I crouched on the ground. J stood behind me fanning me with her dress to try and keep the little blighters away.  I don't think I've ever managed to unroll and roll up a micro log so fast in my life!  Here's J about to put it back.  Another favourite point from me!

Down to Summer Holiday 5 - You're Sitting on It past some golfers playing on the green at the Berkshire Golf Club. I wonder if they appreciated the shouting and laughter from us all as we went down the pathway batting away mozzies and making each other jump with hair and grass on backs and legs.  Then N decided to 'pram surf' all the way to the next cache whilst screaming and making an police car siren noise.  I bet they enjoyed every second of that as we all know golfers love a bit of noise and chaos around them when they are playing don't they. :)

Back out of the main wooded area and onto the main path we found GZ. It was quite obvious, as I'm sure you'll agree.  A quick search around and the cache was found by J who handed it to S to 'claim'.  That's what big sisters are for you know :)  S was pleased as punch at 'finding' this one as you can tell.

Signed and I put it back, shouting 'mind the dog poo' at S.  Damn those owners who do not pick up after their animals, especially by a seat for heavens sake.  None of this was going to bother us too much today though as this was a hugely fun ring.

Last cache coming up on our little walk.  This was Summer Holiday 6 - Nice Slice.  We were heading back towards the car on the main 'road' area.  GPS bouncing around again and I saw roughly where it wanted us to go.  Hubby spotted an 'easier' way in a bit further past and said that the compass hadn't really been accurate so he thought it was a tree stump.  S and I went for a look but nothing there except long grass and lots of grasshoppers.  Compass moving around a bit so we stood for a little while and it pointed back to the original area.  Off we went. The grass was almost taller than S in places!  Finally we got to the area and spotted this.

Yep, the cache was underneath.  It was a lovely tub of goodies to finish off the walk with the lid attached to this marvellous chunk of wood.  I'd forgotten to pick up the swaps bag so we just signed the log and headed back to the car.

If you live in/around the Bracknell area and have children, you'd do worse than check out this lovely set of caches.  Credit to the CO for setting a really fun little ring.  Thank you.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Eaten by Mozzies

The sun was shining so that means a geocaching day.  Off we headed to Swinley Forest, Bracknell (or Ascot which seems closer!) to find a few caches in a kind of ring. The caches in this area are all around 3.5 difficulty and all have no clues so it's just have a hunt and see what you can find.  Suits us :)  I downloaded them all to my phone - not going to risk lack of signal as happened on Tuesday in Barnstaple!  Oddly, there were 22 cache numbers but only 13 actual caches. I'm guessing some have been muggled and removed.

Parked down a lovely road and set off.  It's such a shame that dog walkers don't pick up their dogs mess near to any car parking area.  A quick navigate of the poo and we were away.

First cache - Swinley Forest 1 - was quickly to hand.  GPS seemed a little off but it was an easy spot by me.  Signed and away we went, heading towards # 2.  The GPS told us the cache was around the centre of the railway line. I'm sure the CO didn't want us climbing the fence and dashing in front of trains so we had a look around.  Nothing we could see.  Remembering there were no clues and these caches could be any type and any location (high, low, buried, etc) we put our thinking caps on.  About 25 minutes later we gave up.  Never mind, one to come back to another day.

Next on the list was # 4, and we arrived at GZ quite quickly.  Reading back on some logs, it said to trust your GPS which was pointing straight into the middle of some rhoddodendron bushes.  In we went!  Face full of cobwebs and tiny insects down my t-shirt. Nice.  Poked the holes, looked in the branches, moved the logs, but nothing. J was also hunting a bit further away and found a good looking candidate in a nice tree but nothing materialised.  S was also having a try.  Out we came after about 15 mins and in went hubby with J to try again.  Another good scout around but nothing.  Tried using c:geo which sent us to the other side of the path!  Oh well, in for a penny. Off went hubby, J and S and another 20 min search resulted in nothing.  Darn it, another defeat. Oh well, on to the next.

Arriving at # 6 GPS was still taking us some 10m past the actual place we thought the cache was in and we were right.  A quick find and dropped off a TB to continue it's journey.  I got bitten by a mozzie and we noticed a couple on N, who was in her pushchair at this point a little tired.  We swiped them off and away we went from the puddles.

Off down the bumps to # 7 avoiding some more flooded bits.  A good looking possibility presented itself and we all waded on in to search around it. N still looking on at this madness :)  Nothing.  I turned around to look at another prospect and spotted it immediately!  Result.  Remember not to just look down ;-)  S did the retrieve but the cache wasn't in good order. No lid, no log and just an old plastic sweet wrapper. I popped some paper in the wrapper and put it back.  Looks like some maintenance requests have been made but not actioned on this one.  I then noticed a mozzie on my elbow, all full and red!  Nice.  Flicked it off and immediately felt the itch start :(

On to # 8 we went.  As we arrived, there was a pond the other side of the fence.  J, S and hubby went to find the cache and I checked on N.  I suddenly saw that she had lumps all over her forehead. Oh no!  She had been bitten by mozzies. We hadn't been quick enough to get rid of them.  I had some sudocrem on me so we popped that on the bites and then saw lots on her arms too. Poor little N had been dinner for the mozzies whilst we were stationery getting the caches :(  Right, enough, we're off out of here for today.

We trundled back towards the car and as we got near the railway bridge that we had come across, I spotted a cache, # 22, to our right.  Hubby waited with N in a mozzie free area and S, J and I went to retrieve it.  I'm glad we did. What a fabulous cache container as you can see :)  A favourite point from me for this one.

Back to the car and home where I sent hubby straight out for some calomine lotion for N.  Fortunately the bites don't seem to be bothering her too much.  We'll be back to do some more of this area when it dries out a bit or when I bring a cardigan for N!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Dangling my daughter from a bridge

No, you don't need to call the NSPCC and I wasn't having a Michael Jackson moment - we were geocaching! (how did you guess huh?).

We had told J about the excellent bridge cache, Just Another?, we had completed recently now that it's back in place (no we hadn't gone blind the first time we tried it).  

Off we went to the location.  Youngest two were armed with puffs to eat whilst hubby readied the camera for the action :)  We went to the location and had a look over the side.  There was the cache.  Unfortunately, it was in the wrong place and could have easily been reached by S and she's only 3 1/2! A quick retrieve by J and the log was signed. How disappointing. However, now came the fun as we were going to put this back where it really should be, right underneath!

J worked her way out between the railings and I sat on her legs to stop her toppling into the water.  Further...a bit further...yep, there it goes.  She then came back up but I had to move backwards on her legs and she had a brief panic when she felt my weight lift off her as she was still beyond her tipping point :)  Would I do that?  No...well, not today anyway, it wasn't warm enough ;-)  Just kidding!

This was a cache she really enjoyed doing.  She put a note on her log about it being in the wrong position and the CO kindly thanked us for putting it back correctly.  I am just glad that when hubby and I had found it, it had been in the right position otherwise we'd have put it back where we found it and wondered what all the fuss was about.

It seems all the finders after us were from a caching meet and perhaps the last one just put it where they could reach, as opposed to where it should be, which is a shame as it's supposed to be a bit of a challenge.  Hope the next person enjoys finding it in the right place :)