Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Off to The Priory - Addicted to Caching

Yes she can see out of that hat
Well, not entirely.  We are kind of addicted to caching, although it hasn't been easy of late to get out as both the little ones have had bad colds, coughs and sore throats. Not ideal weather to drag them around in the mud then.

Today we needed to get some fresh air before we went stir crazy in the house!  Everyone packed into the car, bobble hats, scarves and gloves on and we were away.

We parked up just down the road from The Priory in Woking. In case you're not aware of this The Priory Group are the rather famous hospitals that have been known to treat celebs for their various addictions.  They deal with a variety of issues from the expected ones of alcohol and substance abuse through to more unusual ones such as computers or forensic addictions (what the heck are those - people who watch too much CSI?)  Our local one deals with acute psychiatric illness. I have to say it's a rather nice looking and relaxing building, even on a dreary day.

Our first cache was called Humps and was nice and obvious, except I was on the wrong side of the road. Oh well. It was then that I realised I had come out without my bag and that meant no pen. Oh dear. Only one thing to do, photographs at locations where no pen was present!  The joys of a smartphone.  Here's S holding the cache and N admiring her wellies.

We carried on around the corner past a group of landscapers doing the rather pointless task of collecting up leaves.  With the wind blowing and the rain coming down, it seemed a bit of a futile exercise but they were doing their best.

Here's the Priory Hospital itself. I bet it is glorious around here in the summer as it is surrounded by green fields.

The Priory Hospital, Woking
Heading to the next cache involved a rather steep, around 12% gradient hill that was just a mud bath.  Hubby (who you may recall does not wear/have wellies) was trying to negotiate himself and S around the edges.  N and I, wearing wellies, were slipping and sliding down the middle. Even we had to get to the edge eventually as I could see me whizzing past hubby on my backside with N face down in the mud beside me (remember our last muddy walk out?).

We got to near GZ for Up on the Ridge and realised where we had to go.  This was going to be fun in rain and mud.  Off I went.  GPS was having a mad moment so it seemed to be between two objects.  I noticed some string hanging down from one but chose to ignore it and looked at the other one.  Hubby clearly was desperate to have a go so I took over hand-holding of the girls having half slid, half run down the slope and up he went, straight to the string which was attached to the cache.  As they say in CSI "Nobody ever looks up".  So, that taught me. Hold on, is that a forensic addiction showing?  So he brought me the cache which I signed and then replaced.

We were going to walk to the next one but it was starting to rain very hard and we thought we may be pushing our luck for our first trip out with the girls since they had been unwell.  Two in hand, it was time to get home in the warm and dry.

We went back past the landscapers who were still trying to fight the same piles of leaves it seemed.

I do think that they could make thigh-high wellies for kids though as my two both had soaking wet tights when we got home from jumping in puddles. Perhaps I could take that idea to the Dragons Den?

Friday, 23 November 2012

Am I insuring a Bugatti Veyron?

Bugatti Veyron Super Sports
My car insurance has gone through the roof this year.  Heaven knows why.  I am (inevitably) a year older and have another years no claims under my belt.

You can see a lovely picture of my new car on the left.  It's a snip to buy at $2.4 million.  Dream on.

As much as I wish I did, I do not drive this, an Aston Martin, Lambourgini or Ferrari.  I drive a SAAB 9-5. Not even a new one at that.

I was shocked when my insurance renewal came through. It had gone up from £252 last year to £704 this year. WTF?  When I queried this, thinking that perhaps they had misread SAAB for Rolls Royce, they simply said I had an 'introductory discount for being a new customer' last year. Thanks for that. I'll leave you this year and come back as a new customer in a couple of years time then.

So, off I trundle to my favourite place - the home of the Meerkat - and get some quotes.  It was hard to find a quote in the first 30 or so that was even close to the renewal cost so I was delighted to tell my current company to push off and I'd buy online nearer the time.

Today was nearer the time so away I click to buy the cheapest insurance from Sheila's Wheels.  Well, it seems that Sheila does not want to insure my wheels when I get to the checkout.  A message comes up - quite rude really - saying that based upon the information I have provided, they cannot provide me with insurance and if I have come via a comparison site, please find another insurer to use and do not call us.  Wow, thanks for that. Did I offend them by using the Meerkats?  If so, why are they on there in the first place?  Baffling.

So, slightly aggrieved, I go back to get the next price up. As it's only a few pounds different, I'm not too bothered.  Make my selections for additional things I want and click buy.  Tilt!  Sorry, they cannot insure me based upon the information provided.  What?  I'm confused. Okay, let's try again but just taking their preferred selections (a bit more expensive but only a few pounds so who cares) into account and buy. Nope.  Sod off it said.  It didn't really but it was close. Pretty much we aren't interested in insuring you despite giving you a quote so please try elsewhere.

By the time I've reached the fifth rejection, I am getting more than a little worried.  What could be the problem? They all quoted when I input my details.  There were a list of insurers who would not provide quotes with reasons beside them, mostly for type of vehicle which made me wonder.

So, it turns out that having a SAAB is a major problem since they went bankrupt.  A few insurers I have spoken to (those not on comparison sites) explained to me that they either refuse to insure SAAB at all or load the premium for insurance as they consider that parts will become scarce and labour will be expensive for any work that needs doing.

So, I finally managed to find an insurer to take my SAAB. I'm pleased to say still at less than half of what my previous insurer wanted at renewal but the excesses mean that the car would most likely be a write-off for any minor prang.  That's how it goes I suppose but somehow it feels less than fair.

Next year I'm getting rid of the SAAB and buying myself a Volvo!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Roll out the red carpet

I'm a celebrity!  Slight exaggeration maybe but I'm just a little bit famous - well among my friends anyway.

I appeared on TV yesterday on Watchdog Daily

I had written to them when I received my Vodafone price increase. I was 'Mrs Angry of Surrey', not because of how much my mobile tariff was going to rise but the fact that it was going to go up. A  fixed tariff for two years?  I think not.

I am one of around ten million people who received this text from Vodafone.  My tariff went up by 60p per month. Multiply that up and you'll see how much extra money Vodafone are making!

So, I didn't quite get my fifteen minutes of fame that Andy Warhol promised but it's good enough for me.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Christmas is coming - let's hike the prices

I love Christmas.  I love the excitement around wrapping the presents, handing them out to friends and family and, most of all, the faces of my children then they see how many presents are under the tree and the ooo's and ahh's when they open things they are genuinely excited about.

What I do not like about Christmas is the price hike that Amazon seem to manage almost every year.  Have you noticed? Well, here's an easy way to see.  Put some items into your basket or 'save for later' about a month before Christmas and then watch.  You will see that around 70% of them increase in price as the weeks pass.  Why does this remind me so much of the rip off that holiday companies run where they are now putting up the prices of their holidays weeks either side of the school ones to stop any parents who may not want to pay an extortionate price try and get away during the cheaper periods.

The Amazon price increases can be quite significant.  For example, a Moshi Monsters Treehouse that I was looking at (and contemplating buying) has gone up in from £18.49 to £20.00 in just one day - same supplier, same postage cost. That's a £1.51 increase! That's a lot of money when you add it up a few times over for children's gifts as it is far from the only one that has done this.

Then there is the sneaky price increase.  The cost of the item stays the same but the postage increases (clearly this only applies to outside companies using Amazon).  Very sly that one.

I am finding that I need to almost do a 'compare the toy' (are the compare sites missing a trick here?) for each item as the prices can vary wildly between Amazon, Toys R Us, Argos and other retailers. I know this is the same the rest of the year but somehow when it is Christmas we are more aware of it.

I wonder if this happens with other items too?  Has anyone noticed that the price of jewellery, mobile phones or housewares increases around Christmas or is it mainly centered around toys, games and DVDs?

I find this whole price increase with an online company such as Amazon rather odd as many of the High Street stores are offering discounts at this time.  Mind you, I never noticed if they increased the prices first a few months ago to make the discounts look good. Remember, the retailers are not being kind to you so it is more likely that they are being a bit sneaky and hoping we don't notice.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Fetish-it-now on eBay

Lucy and her...err....bra
I was slightly shocked yesterday. I did also have a jolly good laugh. You see, I decided to sell two old (in the sense that I can’t wear them now, not that they are grey and ugly or anything) bras on eBay.  I have done this before with maternity bras and they sold surprisingly quickly.

I know sometimes rules apply to one thing but not another so I decided to check on eBay and ensure I could list regular bras that had been ‘used’.

A quick search and there appeared the bras.  Hang on.  As I scroll down the page to see if mine would be worth listing as they are big, basic (most are frilly, sexy types)  and I used them after I finished breastfeeding, I came across some pictures.  

There were women clearly modelling their bras! 

I was a little taken aback by this. Why the heck would you need to stick a picture of your boobs in a bra onto eBay? Surely us women know what a bra looks like on?  

One seller had listed her item as ‘Lucys worn turquoise bra’ and the description was a classic.  It says “Photos are to show what item will look like and of no sexual content”.  Yes Lucy, clearly us women need four photos of you almost falling out of your bra so we know what it will look like on us.  I wonder if you're trying to prove a point to your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/boss as it is rather odd to name yourself in the listing.

A bit more scrolling and it got worse. Now I was confronted (if you pardon the pun) by someone with middle-age spread and bad cellulite, modelling a bra – but via a shot of herself in her suspenders and thong with just the head missing. Judging by the rest of the body, it was probably good that her face was out of shot.  I couldn’t help myself. I had to peek. I opened up the page to find about fifteen pictures of this woman ‘modelling’ her bra.  Someone should have told her though that you cannot see the bra when she is bent over, facing away from the camera with her flabby arse eating a thong right in your face.

I wonder if I have stumbled on an eBay fetish area by mistake?

One thing is for sure, there won’t be any men in macs looking at my bra pictures!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Amazon Associates - won't say but won't pay

I signed up to the Amazon Associates scheme some years ago.   The reason for the sign up was to generate a little bit of income to help support my WWII Memories site, which I fund totally myself.

It has taken me about 3 years to build up to the princely sum of £16.44 so to say it is slow going is an understatement. But do you know what, every little helps.

With Christmas coming up I have reminded friends and in-laws about the link on the WWII site and asked them to please order via it.  I am optimistic about reaching the £25 pay-out level in the next 3-4 years ;-)

My sister-in-law very kindly ordered some of her Christmas shopping just that way.  I could see the orders. She had purchased some items from the Wish Lists that I keep for us all.  How kind :)

Anyway, I see the items showing up as Orders but nothing further seemed to be happening.  So, yesterday, I contacted Amazon to see why the Earnings did not show up.  Of course, you cannot phone these people so I wrote an email.

Today I received this reply:

"I have checked your account and found that you have not received advertising fees for the order not appearing on your reports as a result of personal orders being placed through your Associates links.

Due to the proprietary nature of the process, we will not share with you the criteria by which we detect personal orders placed by an Associate. Please know that we are able to determine when an order has been placed by an Associate via their Associates links."

So, Amazon have accused me - totally incorrectly - of ordering items using my own link. This I have never done. I know the rules and abide by them.  The only time I have clicked the link in my site was yesterday - to check that it did indeed have the correct ID in it for me to receive payment. It took me to Amazon, I looked at the ID in the URL and then shut the web page down.  As this was after the event in question and no order was made, surely they cannot be referring to that?

However, as you will see from the very statement contained in Amazon's reply to me, it occurred to me that there is no way what I can challenge this fact.  Why?  Well clearly because Amazon won't disclose to me how they 'know' this incorrect fact. So, clearly I have no recourse.

Today, I sent a rant of an email back to them.  I am absolutely disgusted with Amazon.  It seems to me that all these 'pay per click/view' sites are a total scam.

Looks like I am not the only one to be met with their all encompassing T&Cs (commonly called a 'get out clause').  Have a look at Joshua Odmark's experience with them.

Here are just a few more of the examples from doing a quick Google search:

Is Amazon's Affiliate or Associate Program a Scam?
Amazon Associate Scam
Amazon Assoicates Program is a Scam

I have just sent them another email saying close the account and have now removed all their 'free advertising' from my WWII site.  No more of this advertising on my site for nothing. If you want to show your products, you're gonna have to bloody well pay for it!

23rd January 2013 - I would not let this lie so after numerous emails and complaints, despite me shutting my account down as I was so furious over this, Amazon paid up in gift vouchers which I am happy to use.  I feel I achieved a small victory.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Pass the Dettol...and a cloth

We went to another party yesterday at a play centre called Jakes.  I have to say that while the concept of these places is good, I cannot help but find this particular one quite dirty.  

Don't get me wrong, as a family we don't live in a gleaming palace of a house - far from it - and I know we do not have hundreds of children traipsing through our home (although it can feel like that at times) but a basic bit of tidying up and wiping down can make anywhere feel clean, can't it?

The place holds about 2,000 children - or at least it feels like it does!

The climbing frame in this place is lovely but the first problem arose for me yesterday in that N, who is 22 months, wanted to follow S around the big play part.  Of course she is too small for this but that wasn't about to stop her - not with mum in tow!  Off we all went.  Remember these places are designed for children - not adults - so some of the areas were quite a squeeze in/through/over/on.  Fortunately there were quite a few mums and dads having to endure this so I didn't feel too alone up there.  I did feel very hot though. I had forgotten how much heat a mass of children can generate in a large warehouse style structure. I was positively 'glowing' by the end of my first pass-through.  After the second one, I said to S that she can play with her older friends on the main frame and I would go to the smaller, baby one with N and off we went.  Phew!

Now, if you've ever been to one of these places, you'll know when I say that I am so glad that N is past the point of wanting to put things in her mouth.  The thought of her doing any such thing here would have me running, screaming for the Dettol.  

The baby area was dirty. Not just a bit grubby, but really quite grotty.  Every piece of equipment seemed to have something black or brown stuck to it. One of the rocking horses was no longer beige but more...well, poo coloured.  Not pleasant to look at and I wasn't about to sniff it.

When the main character, Jake, came out for a dance, sadly I was not in the least bit surprised to see that the costume was as filthy looking as it was at the last party we came to around a month ago.  Surely it wouldn't hurt the staff to put the outfit into a washing machine at the end of a day and make it look clean?  They must have a spare surely in case part of him tears or falls off?  He also greets the party children and poses for photos with them cuddling him (arghhhhhhh) but quite a few of us parents didn't want our children to go near Jake or hold his hand as he looked just so, well, unclean.  All he needed was the bell.

We headed upstairs to the party room. The tables had been laid out with appropriate coloured plastic clothes and party hats. The girls all sat down.  A few parents had little ones and there were quite a few highchairs around. Natasha wanted to sit in one (heaven knows why) and so I went to get one for her.  Of the three that were on my side of the tables, every single one had a dirty tray and seat. Now bearing in mind highchairs are often used for younger children who will eat off the tray, would it not have been appropriate for the staff to give them a wipe down before any party arrived?  The seats were full of crumbs and other bits and pieces. If you lean the highchair forward you can bang those bits out that you can then sweep/hoover up or just use a damp cloth again to get them out. It's not rocket science here folks.  This is a play centre for 'children' so shouldn't the staff know just a smidge about cleanliness?  Every parent with a smaller child had them sitting on their laps.  That says it all.

The sofa and chairs that were in the area away from the tables were - to put it mildly - rank.  They were sticky and just plain dirty.  I realise that children with all sorts of food on their hands are likely to be on and off of them but they weren't material that was difficult to clean, just faux-leather so again, a wipe down with a damp cloth would have done the trick.

When you are charging £4.50 for a young child and £5.50 for an older child to go play in one of these places and asking even more for a party, what can possibly be the reason for not being capable of wiping a bit of seating and some trays down and making them look nice and clean?  The staff are not that busy that they cannot spend ten minutes doing this simple task.  

As for me, well I won't be back until we have to go to another party there which, with any luck, will be never.

Friday, 9 November 2012

No, I do not want to be your friend - ever!

An aspect of social media that we all enjoy is being able to get back in touch with people from our past. Sometimes it is old friends we lost contact with through moving areas or it is former work colleagues.

While many aspects of being on Facebook, Twitter and, to a degree, LinkedIn are positive, there are some negatives also.  In my case, these are the ex-boyfriends.

My first experience of an ex-boyfriend trying to get in touch was a bit of a shock.  I opened up Facebook one morning to see a ‘Friend Request’ had come through.  Opening it up, I felt my stomach turn over as I looked at the picture.  It was an ex-boyfriend from when I was a mere teenager.  Why the stomach wrenching feeling?  Well, for three years he beat me up.  But not only did he do that to me, he was very clever about it. He never hit me in the face – everywhere else was fair game – he didn’t want anyone to see the damage he was doing.  You know the type. Poor boy came from a broken home, father was an obese bully, mother was one step short of a hooker the amount of men that came and went in his life.  So, somehow, everyone felt sorry for him.  If only they knew.  Why was I with him for three years when he had done this to me? Simple. He destroyed all my self-confidence and was very convincing that it was ‘my fault’ that he hit me. You know the kind of thing – “you smiled at that man in the garage when paying for petrol so you must be having sex with him”, “you wore that skirt so that men would look at you at work”, “you ignored me when I spoke to you”, “you made me do it” – I’m sure you’ve heard that many, many times before in the media.  How did I find the courage to leave in the end?  Easy. He tried to stab me in our flat.  Did I ever report him?  Of course not. Who would have believed me?  Even my own mother could not believe the things he had done!

Why the hell did this man think, even almost thirty years later, that I would want to be his friend?  To see his profile picture - standing there, grinning, holding a lobster he had caught, made my stomach do a complete flip.  I looked at his profile briefly.  Was he just out of prison?  A divorcee?  No, he was happily married for over twenty-five years with adult children and – get this – a foster parent!  I hit the ignore button. 

Three hours later, there was another friend request waiting for me.  Guess who?  Yes, he had tried to friend me again.  How?  I had ignored the last request.  It turns out that clearly he must have been monitoring his account as once you ‘ignore’ a friend request, the status goes from ‘pending’ to nothing at all, so clearly he had seen I had not accepted it but rather than leave it at that, he sent another. I instantly blocked him this time and reported him for harassing me (not that Facebook will do anything about this).

I wondered how he had found me after all this time.  I had changed names where I had been married so how did he know who to look for?  Although my first name is a bit more unusual, there are plenty of those on Facebook too.

It turns out he simply Googled me.  As I have a WWII website containing family information, it was as simple as him entering one of my parents details and where I grew up and the page was presented to him.  At the bottom of the page was my name.  I had never considered that would lead to something like this.  Naturally I removed my name from every page there and then.  Too late on this occasion but at least it was done now.

A few days ago I got another friend request on Facebook.  Another ex-boyfriend.  This was the third time he had attempted to be my friend, both others were ignored (I must remember to open the profiles and block, which I did this time).  He isn’t anyone nasty but just someone from over ten years ago that I left and haven’t thought about since.  I have no interest in being his friend. This wasn’t his first attempt at contact either, he has tried via LinkedIn as well.  So, another block onto my Facebook account.  There, that was easy.

A few days later - day after my birthday - I got a text message.  Yes, you guessed it, from this same ex.  He had even kept  my mobile number from all that time ago!  I didn’t put two-and-two together at first and wondered who this text was from. It just said “Hey, happy birthday. I almost missed it. JT”.  Who the hell was JT I thought?  Having not given him any brain space in ten years, he wasn’t anywhere on my radar.  “Who is this?” I asked.  “JT” came the reply.  “JT who?” I asked.  This was getting silly.  “John” came the reply.  The penny dropped.  “Oh.  Look I don’t want to be friends or stay in touch so please delete my number” was my reply.  All went quiet. Good, he’s got the point.

The same evening I get two texts in a row.  The first from him says “Hey, neither do I. Was just being nice” followed by “Deleted”.  OK, so he needed the last word.  It was very clear to me that he didn’t want to be my friend or stay in touch – why else tried to friend me so many times, keep my number and text me?  Stalker issues?  Who knows.

Of course my husband is angry about it.  He is very protective of me and his family.  Naturally he would like to 'talk' to these men (if you get my drift).  I have dealt with it all. He understands that but is not happy about it.

So, for the majority of us a friend request is a good thing. It brings back fond memories and can be a laugh to be in touch again.

Every now and again though, it is something we would rather have never encountered in our lives.  This is the problem with social media.  The two men in question live a long way from me. The chances of us ever bumping into each other are almost non-existent.  But sitting at a computer, they can search the entire world for people they would never meet in the street.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Honesty is NOT the best policy

Sometimes I wonder why I bother.  I have decided a number of things lately relating to S.  

Firstly, I started her swimming at a nice class.  That has gone well.  She is quite local and likes the other two little girls she swims with. This week I am planning to ask one or both over for a play date.  I want her to make some more friends out of school you see.  Also, it's nice for me to get to know some more mums.

Secondly, she has another few birthday parties coming up with school friends. She doesn't want to go as she might not like the food/hall/games.  Every time she goes, she loves it but she is so worried beforehand, she gets herself all worked up. I have never known a child like her.

Thirdly, we go to ballet about 6 miles from where we live. While this isn't really far, it is enough to have made sure that (a) she hasn't made any friends at ballet as she isn't around locally enough for them to get to know her (which was one of the reasons for joining also) and (b) that I sit there like a vicar at a tarts tea party because all the other mums and dads do live locally and now have got to know each other as they found they live around the corner or the kids go to the same nursery, so they chat and arrange play dates while I stare at my phone bashing away at Angry Birds!  Of course we all spoke to begin with 18 months ago when she started but gradually it's got to the point that a 'hello' is strained.  I have no idea why people behave this way but I've seen it a lot through life. It's just one of those things.  So, I have decided to move S's ballet class to a local venue which is more convenient for me and hopefully will let her get to know some more children who live around here. A win-win situation I'm sure you will agree.  The new ballet teacher has even invited her to their Christmas party ahead of her joining the school. How lovely :)

However, my little chat to her today about how exciting it will be joining a new ballet class with an even prettier tutu has fallen on deaf ears.  Suddenly tonight she has been stressing like you would not believe about leaving her current ballet class.  She has now cried five (count them), yes, five times in bed about the new class. She has just told me she will try it but if she doesn't like it she will go back to the old class. I kind of said we will see (remember that non-committal comment?) and left it at that.

Here's what would have been easier.

January 2013
Saturday morning
"Come on Sophie, ballet time."
Out the door into the car.
Arrive at new ballet school.
"Why are we here mummy?  Why aren't we going to my ballet class?"
"Your ballet class has closed down sweetie so I have found you this lovely new class to go to. Aren't you a lucky girl?"
Usher her into the hall.  
Job done.

Thank heaven I haven't mentioned anything about her changing schools yet!

So, note to self.  No more honesty.  Stick to saying nothing then go for the mother of all lies on the actual day of the event.  

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Happy birthday geocache....or perhaps not

It's muddy
It's my birthday today (happy birthday to me) so hubby has taken the day off so we can have some fun together. Not in the 'oo-la-la' sense (well, not during the daytime anyway) but you know, getting out with the girls for a wander around and perhaps some geocaching.  Hey, there's an idea!

So, this morning I get my cards and presents - slippers, chocolate, smellies and a CD I wanted - which are perfect and then I headed off to M&S to grab myself a few new clothes.  I'm always sticking my head in my wardrobe and grumbling so I had a good excuse today to grab a new skirt and top - thank you hubby.

Home for lunch and we decided then to head off geocaching. Now, you may recall that our last birthday geocaching adventure (here) didn't work out too well.  But hey, surely that's a one off right?

Anyway, there are three or four caches that are part of a ring that we haven't yet managed to do so we jumped into the car and drove over to Fairoaks Aerodrome to park up and head off to claim them.

Everyone decanted, wellies on the girls and off we went.  S wanted to watch the planes and so did N and we agreed we would do that when we got back but also told them that where we were walking was right at the end of the runway so we were hoping some planes would be taking off over us.  Anyway, we walked as far as the exit gate to the road when I suddenly realised I was still wearing my ankle boots. Not much use in mud really so off I trotted back to the car to change into my wellies while hubby waited with the girls.  I rejoined them and away we went.  We had to walk a little piece of road first then onto a bridleway.  

I have to say that the path was full of slippery mud and quite deep puddles but hey, we're not put off by that. Have wellies, will walk!

I was looking at my phone working out the best route to the first cache and it seemed that going across some fields would be quickest.  Off we went through the stile with S flapping about prickles around her legs when she should have been worried about the stinging nettle at face height (kids!) and down between some fields.  We realised at the end that we wanted to go left towards a stream so followed the path that way, through another gate and were then walking between two more fields.  A shout caught our attention.  "You can't get through that way I'm afraid. It leads to a dead end", said the lady who was behind us about to tend to her horses.  We turned around and headed back.  She informed us that we could now turn either left and carry on towards the farm or right back to where we came from.  Well, we knew where the path to the right led so we decided to head that way.  

Back through the stile we went (me shielding S from the stinging nettle) and off up towards the end of the runway. No planes taking off but a cleaning truck buzzing around. Oh well.

We carried on down the bog of a path but suddenly it just got far too muddy.  There was a little 'sub-path' to the left where clearly people had felt it was easier to fight their way through the undergrowth than go through the swamp so S and I had already cleared one puddle and were turning left when hubby shouted where were we going as he didn't have wellies on, just walking boots.  I turned around and said "to the left" and carried on negotiating S round the mudslides.  

Soggy and muddy.
 Suddenly hubby shouted, there was a splash, and N started to cry. The bag that hubby was carrying had slipped off his shoulder, he had released N's hand for a split second to put it back on rather than it hitting the mud but instead, N had darted forward to try and reach me and just got stuck and gone face first into the muddy puddle. Oh my.  She was a sight.  She sobbed.  It is about 10C out so it's not warm and to be now soaked through and covered with mud was not good.

Adventure over.

Hubby grabbed N and started marching as quickly as he could back to the car.  S and I followed.  We were actually worried about N getting too cold as it was quite bitter out with the wind too.

We were travelling at Warp 9!
We got back to the car and I stripped N down to her vest and nappy.  I covered her with my coat, her scarf and my scarf.  Poor little mite. One welly was full of mud and cold water.  Her leggings and socks were soaked. Her top was wringing wet where it had stuck out from under her coat and the cuffs were drenched where she put her hands down. Her coat was soaking and muddy.  All in the boot along with S's jeans that had got wet as she'd jumped in a puddle when we started off as hubby had forgotten that they needed to be tucked *into* her wellies.  Men.
Snuggled in coat and scarves
At least the two girls were smiling as you can see.

Cosy back in the car
So, another birthday, another geocaching disaster. Next year I am going to go out on my own on my birthday and find just one, local cache.  I will recce the area prior to the actual day so that should my phone fail, wellies fall off or it snow, I will know where to find it just so I can say I got one - finally.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Quiet please, we are playing golf

We took my step-sister and niece out on Saturday to introduce them to geocaching.  

To make life nice and simple, we spotted that a few more caches had been placed around a local golf course and as we knew the area, we popped our wellies on and headed off in search of tupperware.

We were chatting away and the girls were laughing when we rounded a corner to be met with a chorus of "Shush!" from golfers about to tee-off.  Oh come on, there is a public footpath running less than five feet away from where you want to bash your little white ball into oblivion and you are getting all grouchy about people walking along it chatting away?  Telling children to be quiet as a man wants to hit a ball is ridiculous and just begs for a series of "Why?" questions.  Some people need to relax a bit.  I'm sure I heard a grumble about 'children being allowed around the area'.  Hey grumpy - tough titty!

Despite the occasional golf-bore, this is a nice area to walk around as it has some good pathways to follow between the areas of the course.  My step-sister was delighted to find her first cache and the addiction took hold quickly.  Isn't it amazing how excited we all get over plastic tubs in the undergrowth!

At one point we clearly went wrong and instead of going down the public footpath, we strayed onto the path the golfers take around the course.  Instant calling at us ensued.  Apparently they were concerned about us being hit by balls but by the looks of indignation, it was more about the fact that these people and children had breached their sanctuary.  Odd how nearly everyone out was a man.  Escaping the domineering wives perhaps as they were quite whiny about it rather than just informing us of the facts.

No problem, we turned around and went the right way, finding some more caches.  

I have to say that maybe just to be a tad annoying make a point, we were a little on the loud side searching for one cache where the path ran between the areas of the course and we spotted the same "Shush" men tee-ing off again.  I don't think they could spot us in the trees but I did notice them looking over and they appeared to be grumbling to one another.  Well, if you want complete silence, I suggest you join a more exclusive golf course that doesn't have a public footpath running all around and through it. *sticks tongue out*

We had a fab time. We found five caches in all and a couple were quite tricky little devils so we were very pleased.  The girls found two golf balls and as we were leaving, S asked a set of golfers if they would like the ball she had found and they graciously said that was very kind of her and took it.  See, there are some nice folk around.