Saturday, 31 August 2013

What's behind this business park?

We found it!
Headed out today to help hubby blow the cobwebs away after a busy week at work.  Sun shining and away we went over to Guildford as I'd spotted a few caches near the Surrey Business Park.  Our first recce of the area was a fail. I was trying to reach the train line shown on the map having read someone else's log saying they parked up nearby.  However, all I could see were double yellow lines and I wasn't about to trust that Traffic Wardens don't work Saturdays around Guildford - even at the very bottom of a business park!  Back we headed and parked up just the other side of the A3 so our first cache of the day was going to be the aptly named A3 View.  Over the bridge we went and I made a quick spot.  Hubby couldn't see it for the life of him and then the girls noticed it.  Signed and off we went.

A3 Bridge
Across the fields we headed to Manor Copse where the GPS bounced around all over the place.  A process of elimination was employed of "where would I hide it?" and suddenly hubby made the find, much closer to the path than expected.

Back we popped out to the field to have a sandwich and a sit down.  Where the crop had been cut down it certainly was a bit prickly sitting there but nice to enjoy our nibbles and fruit.

Field View was an immediate spot for me as we approached.  Having read some of the logs before getting here, I wondered if we were in for a long hunt, expecially as it's a 3* difficulty too.  Clearly it was not to be the case.  The cache was sticking out and quite obvious.  Took a little while to extract the damp log but fortunately hubby had his Swiss friend with him so there was a 'cache extraction tool' to hand (although not sure it was actually called that).  Managed to sign and replaced a little better hidden. I had seen someone say it should not be under anything so made sure it was not but that the 'tube' wasn't showing. Hopefully the next person will have a bit more of a challenging find (or be cursing me - who knows which).

Back we headed as hubby wanted to walk in the field in the sunshine so we suddenly appeared to go off course.  This is becoming the norm for us now.  We finally headed into the back of the business park and had a chat to a lady cleaning her car while her dog was having a good run around asking about the train line. She said it was a very long way away but pointed to a footpath that seemed to run at the back of the buildings.  We thanked her and headed off.  Being the wrong side of the woods, we decided to just walk up to the 7:52 to Reading and pick that up and head back on the right side.  A quick find by hubby who managed to kneel on about the only nettle within feet of the cache!  Owch.  The girls thought it was fun listening to the noise as a train went right over our heads.

We turned back and went along the path we *should* have come down via the fields again (my sun loving husband), then dipped back in to collect Strawberry Grove.  GPS said we were 20m away still but there was a great looking suspect and the cachers instinct took over and we investigated. There was the cache.  Bit of a paddy by N as we wouldn't let her take anything as, yet again *sigh*, I had forgotten my swaps! I'll have to put some into my rucksack I carry everywhere with me won't I.  Clever distraction by hubby with a bag of Animal Biscuits soon had the plastic car forgotten about and we were on our way again.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to cache we go
Carrying on down the path through the trees we aimed for Dark v Light.  As we approached I glanced at the clue as the GPS was a bit indifferent here again and hubby made an immediate spot of the location. A quick look and there it was.

Primrose Woods was next and we thought at first glance it had gone until a slightly closer inspection revealed the cache. The girls like these ones and were pleased to help find it.

Web in sunshine
A few shoulder carries were now on the cards as we'd been gone just over 2 hours.  Little legs were getting tired - no, not mine.

Looking over Surrey Research Park
I tried to get a picture of the falcon on the wire but typically as I took the picture, it went to fly off.

 It was very enjoyable having a walk around the woods and the fields and lovely to have the sun out again.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Sculpture Trail at RHS Wisley

We popped over to our favourite gardens today, RHS Wisley, not realising the Sculpture Trail was on.

Fun to see the creative lawn-mowing that had taken place as we entered.  Sadly I needed to be about 7' tall for you to get the full effect but you get the jist I'm sure.

Lots of very good sculptures to look at this year and still, I'm pleased to say, quite a few we had no clue what they were.

We like a bit of intrigue in our lives *grin*

The girls led the way and off we went.


Gorgeous tree - but around £16,000

This one of the tiger was excellent but I needed to get the girls round to the front quickly before they started asking too many questions as it was clearly a male *cough*

He's behind you!

Pouncing Tiger, Hidden Children

Poppy Pods

Fawn Head

Circus, Afro, Circus, polkadots though

The girls liked this one but wanted to climb on it which I don't think was the sculpture's idea really.

Lovely owl

Slightly scary owl

I told the girls it was a Monk

I couldn't quite work this one out. Something about half animal, half person (mermaid) and death.

The girls enjoyed sitting on the big stones watching the fish and ducks.

Shell made of fish

We liked this one called Seasons and the girls enjoyed looking at all the depictions of the changing seasons. S declared the swallows were in fact "flying fish as they have tails".

S said this was a see-saw. I'm not sure she was right

This was S's absolute favourite sculpture. She said it was the best thing she had seen and she loves cats.

I thought this dog was fantastic. The girls asked if it was real as we approached.  It looks just like my sister's collies before they dash off to do their agility trials.

Hare today, gone tomorrow
The grounds outside the main restaurant area were cordoned off with tents going up ready for the Wisley Flower Show which commences soon (yes, we'll be there).

Another enjoyable day but a quiet note to Wisley staff at the restaurant - open the ice cream parlour before/by Noon as children love your ice cream and so do us adults *smile*

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Breast of Bottle? It's your CHOICE!

Frequently the issue of breastfeeding arises on Twitter.  This normally is followed by an extremely heated debate between the two differing views.

On one side of the argument you'll have those adamant breastfeeders who think anyone who goes within 30 feet of a bottle should be shot.   That's their choice.

On the other hand you have the bottle feeders who decide that formula is a great option. It's more expensive, of course, but it is also very convenient for their lives.  That's their choice.

Can you see what I'm getting at here? It's a choice. Everyone has one.

To help you understand where I'm coming from, here's my experience.

When I was almost 33 I had my first daughter.  It was rammed down my throat about breastfeeding.  The antenatal class even had a new mum come in to show us what it was all about.  Not once did the midwife mention a bottle.  My ex-husband was not keen on the idea of breastfeeding at all and, quite frankly, nor was I.  I had made up my mind about bottle feeding and was very comfortable with my decision. To be straight with you, the more the midwives prattled on about 'breast is best', the more I was determined to show them all the middle finger and do what I wanted.

My daughter was born in 1998 at 34 weeks.  My world changed.  She was in special care for a week before being allowed home. It was a long week but she did extremely well for a prem baby.  The special care team asked if I was breast or bottle feeding. I said bottle. They never batted an eyelid and started feeding her like that.  My first feed with her was magical holding the tiny little bottle with just millilitres of milk in it (she was topped up through a tube in her nose) as she tried her best to drink it.  It took a long time. I held her and took in every second of her feed, watching this perfect little person whom I loved wholeheartedly.  So, you see, breastfeeding had nothing to do with it.  My moment was perfect, like nearly every other new mum.

Within a few days I wanted to try breastfeeding her.  My milk had come in and I looked like Lolo form Eurotrash!  I knew I could try now as I had the milk.  Because she was so tiny, I wanted to do what I could to help her grow and leave hospital.  I tried.  She cried.  She didn't want it. It was hard work. She cried some more and I gave up.  I did not want her distressed, this little soul in my arms.  She liked her bottle and that was fine by me.  The hospital said would I like to try and express?  Yes, I'd be happy to try that.  They set me up with the electric expressing machine. I now know what a cow feels like.

I expressed for around 8 weeks.  That's all I could manage but I'm proud of what I did. I also have no regrets whatsoever about her being bottle fed.  My husband and I could take turns to feed her, meaning one got a full night's sleep while the other fed.  Family and friends loved feeding her and we even had a few hours out to celebrate an anniversary leaving her safely with my sister, knowing she would be fed an happy.  She started weaning at 12 weeks.

One thing stood out for me from this time was that I never knew you could feed a baby before your milk came in.  Shocking huh?  Something fundamentally missing from the antnatel class I went to then.

I had my 2nd daughter in 2008 when I was almost 42.  I already knew I was going to try and breastfeed. Why? Well, I was more in control of what I wanted to do, felt less pressure (which always makes me do the opposite) and it just seemed an easier option.  She took immediately.  After 2 weeks the midwife who visited me at home told me she wasn't gaining enough weight so I should "top-up with formula".  What?  Talk about turnaround!  I was gobsmacked.  I refused and said I would keep on feeding. About the same time I got mastitis and my nipples cracked and bled. It was agony to feed - absolute on fire being stabbed by a red hot poker agony.  I almost stopped but being as bloody minded as I am, wanted to carry on for a while.  I gave myself another week and if I cried in pain with every feed still, I would happily give up.  I bought some nipple shields.  The midwife didn't recommend them.  I didn't care.  They were fabulous.  My mastitis got better and along with lanolin, my agonising nipples healed up.  I carried on using the shields for another couple of weeks then one night she wanted a feed and I was too lazy to go and get them from downstairs so just put her on and all was fine. It was fine from then onwards until I finished breastfeeding at 6 months.

My 3rd daughter was born in 2010 when I had just turned 45.  I breastfed her.  She was hard work. She wanted to be fed morning, noon and night. She would stay on for nearly an hour at a time and then when I finally thought I would rest for a while, she'd sleep for around 15 minutes, wake, cry and want to feed again.  She was putting on weight just fine so I knew she was getting enough. I went for the usual weigh-in at the local clinic.  She was around 3 months old at the time.  The midwife told me to cut down on what I was feeding her as she was getting big.  I was open mouthed and just pointed to my boobs.  "Oh" came the response. I said how ridiculous these people were and left.  I never went back. I carried on breastfeeding until she was 6 months told too.

Why 6 months?  Well, as far as I am concerned, they were weaning from 20 weeks and by 6 months were getting a good, varied diet and so I didn't need to breastfeed any more. I put them onto formula then and they loved it.  Both drank formula milk up until they were 2 and both stopped asking for it at that point or rejecting it.  S (2008) has never drunk milk again.  N (2010) dislikes milk on it's own but will drink a 'milkshake' (tiniest bit of nesquik in a glass of milk and she's fine).  They are both growing well.

How are they now?  J (1998) is a tall, slim, intelligent girl who eats just about everything (except mushrooms!), enjoys being active and has a huge amount of friends.   S is bright, happy and about to start school. She's a terrible fuss-pot with food.  N is happy, loud and about to start nursery. She eats almost anything.

So now you have my story.  You see, what I object to is one side bashing the other constantly trying to make them see their point of view. Remember those arguments over politics?  Did you ever think about switching parties because someone told you you were wrong or argued so hard that you just gave in and did what they wanted? No, I bet you a pound to a penny you dug your heels in hard and stuck to your own view all the more.

So, I don't mind either side of the coin.  Breastfeeding worked for me but so did bottle feeding.  I have experienced both.

Now there's a great pro-breastfeeding article here and it gives some good information.

However, one thing caught my eye - feeding up to and beyond the age of 2.  Yes, 2.  They call it 'extended breastfeeding'.  This is the age when your children can eat a full meal with you at the dining table, drink from a cup, run around the garden and are probably riding a bike with stablilisers.  Do you really think it's necessary to stick them to your boob a couple of times a day then?  I'm sorry but for some reason that makes me shudder and it seems a large majority of the population would agree.  Apparently beyond 6 months gets a bit of a no-no from our society (personally I don't mind that) but move to beyond 1 year and the disapproval gets stronger.  I can understand why.  However, again, it's a personal choice and I'm sure the people who do it have their own reasons.

But...if you've seen Game of Thrones and the scene where Lysa Tully is breastfeeding Robin Arryn who is around 8 or 9 years of age, would you think that acceptable?  Come honest.  That is extended breastfeeding though isn't it?  No?  Well, what's the difference. Do you see what I'm getting at here. When does it become unacceptable to breastfeed your child.  Difficult question and probably one that will be answered in a totally different fashion depending upon your culture and circumstances.

Yes, I understand tribes living on the plains of Africa extended breastfeeding.  Let's face it, the balanced diet and good nutrition we expect in the Western World is not the norm for them so any additional benefit has to help the child.

I met a woman at an NCT class in 2008 who was still breastfeeding her 3 year old and was worried about how that child would react when her baby sibling was born as she would have to share/lose the breast.  I have to confess I thought this was a particularly strange situation the woman had allowed herself to get into.

On the flip side, bottle feeding information is rare.  Even midwives no longer tend to show how to bottle feed at antenatal classes which could lead to babies being put in danger as a Telegraph report showed here.  Surely health professionals have a duty of care to support whichever method a mother chooses?

Why should any mummy be penalised for their choice of feeding methods.  We all want happy, healthy children don't we?  Let's get supportive of whatever method a mother chooses.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Online fragrance for me

We smell great again
Hubby and I both ran out of our favourite smellies at almost the same time. With no holiday in sight, Duty Free was not an option.

I had a scout around Boots (usual perfume buying place) and was surprised at how much the perfumes we wanted were.  I think last time we'd bought from Boots they must have been on offer.  My Eternity was £42.99 and hubby's Joop was £18.76. I thought that seemed a bit steep, even with the Joop having over £6 off.

I decided to have a look around. Sticking what we wanted into Google, I found quite a few suppliers but Fragrance Direct caught my eye so I did a compare then had a look at their website.  The prices were very good and for the two fragrances I wanted, I would save £11 on Boots prices.  Even their postage was very reasonable. I decided to place an order.

Now, call me an old cynic (yes, I can hear you shouting that at your PC screen now, ha, ha), I've heard some horror stories of people (including some friends) who have bought perfumes and the like online.  Everything from fake products to ridiculously watered down versions of the original (you know, turning one bottle of nice perfume into 4 weak smelling ones).  I was therefore a bit suspicious to say the least.  The logical part of me though, concluded that without a shop to run, these folk could afford to sell perfume cheaper. But you never know.

Having asked if it was genuine on Twitter, with an immediate response that it was, I waited for my delivery.

It arrived today. It is the real thing, smells wonderful and I'm so impressed that Fragrance Direct have just got themselves another customer!

So, if you're fed up with paying crazy High Street prices (yes, before you say it, I have checked out those perfume shops but often they are no cheaper than a big retailer), do yourself a favour and have a look at this company online. I think you'll be impressed.

Monday, 19 August 2013

The tale of the (almost) never-ending wardrobe in....brown

This is the 'dark' version of the wardrobe in the
Having purchased a lovely 'put-it-together-yourself' wardrobe for our girls room from Argos, hubby and I decided to opt for a bigger flat-pack one for our newly decorated room.  We didn't mind that people said it would take around 5 hours to put up. We didn't mind it had gone back up to £269.99.  What we didn't expect was that it would take 2 weeks to actually get the thing delivered properly!

The first delivery slot came and our Puerto Rico pine wardrobe arrived.  I'd waited in and was excited about seeing it and cracking on with it while hubby was at work.  I do like a bit of DIY you know.  The drivers lugged it upstairs for me and away they went.  I unpacked it carefully.  What a mess! Parts of it were snapped off completely, it looked like a fork-lift truck had run over other bits of it.  No way were we keeping this.

I phoned Argos. The delivery men couldn't be more than 10 minutes away so could they turn around and collect it?  No was the reply from the lady. They simply couldn't pick it up as they didn't have room on the lorry for it.  What?  Hang on, there was room enough to deliver it to me wasn't there?  Surely they hadn't collected some old rag and bone on their way back to the depot?  I was bemused to say the least.  The lady informed me that they could do a collect next Thursday. Great, a week with 80+KG of wardrobe laying on the floor in our bedroom and all of hubby's clothes in the teens room.  Not ideal to say the least.  Worse was yet to come.  The wardrobe we had ordered, in pine, was no longer in stock.  Fine said I, when would it be back in stock? The lady had no idea and suggested I call back in 'a few days to see' but I wasn't having any of that.  Was the dark pine one available?  Yes. I'll take it.  Not as happy but we needed a wardrobe and it wasn't that much darker....or was it?

...and in real life!  Misrepresentation much?
The following Thursday arrived. Another day knowing I'd have to hang around for hours. Not pleased but at least the wardrobe was coming.  It arrived. One delivery man - the fatter of the two - said they had a collection for Argos.  That was all he said to me the whole time. Rude man. He came in to collect the old one with his colleague and once the larger part was out of the house, he walked past me a third time, now with the new one, as I said "Could you put it upstairs please" still not making another comment.  The other was very pleasant and helpful as he took the second part of the wardrobe up for me. He waited patiently while I checked all the pieces were good and counted them. Yes, I had them all and no breakage this time, but hang on a moment, this wardrobe wasn't the same as the picture in the catalogue!  This wasn't just a bit dark it was bloody brown!  I phoned hubby. He said just take it as we needed one urgently.  I signed for it and they left.  This was never going to blend in with our other pine furniture that was for sure.

Some time after this I was talking to one of my neighbours. It turns out they had parked across part of the shared driveway into our courtyard of houses.  She had to leave her house by car to go back to work and asked the chubby driver (who was now sitting in the cab just waiting) to please move the lorry a bit so she could get out.  He just looked at her and said "you can get your car past" and turned away.  Ignorant git or what!  She had to drive over part of her lawn to get around the lorry. Suffice to say this rude man was reported to Argos.

I started to put the wardrobe together.  It was all going well until I couldn't find a piece. Oh no, not again!  I'd counted the pieces though and they are all here so what's going on?  Easy explanation.  The packaging contained two of one piece I only needed one of, and none of the other piece I needed.  FFS!  This was getting ridiculous.

I called Argos.

You guessed it.  I would have to wait another week for a delivery as they couldn't just send me the missing piece.  Another sodding wasted afternoon!

The next week arrived and the delivery men with it - different ones this time and very nice they were too - and we took out the pieces (yes, turned out there was more than one) missing or duplicated.  We gave them a can of coke each while we sorted through the boxes in the lorry as it was very hot in there.  Finally we could finish the wardrobe.

Do we like it?  It's ok. It's so much darker than we expected (and the catalogue implied) and it really has been poorly made.  Half the stain is missing on pieces and some are so badly cut out or rough you wonder who the hell was working in the factory - Jabba the Hutt!?

After my complaints on the telephone and to Argos via Twitter (far more effective medium), they offered a goodwill gesture for our problems - a £20 Argos voucher!  WTF?  I said I'd like £20 off my purchase price and for it to be put back onto my payment card but I received the following Tweet:

I'm sorry Krista but the offer is £20 in the form of a gift voucher, not back to your card. If you do not wish to accept this, I withdraw the offer and respectfully advise you to seek independent advice. Luke

So Argos' attitude is 'Take our voucher and spend more with us or have nothing" - what a charming bunch!  More Agros than Argos then.

Suffice to say, I'm pretty unimpressed with Argos.  I'd be interested to know other people's experiences of their so-called 'customer service' as it strikes me it's more 'take it or leave it as we don't give a monkeys'!  I would hasten to add that this seems to apply to their 'online ordering' service only.  Our local store has always been excellent at their customer service (clearly they have a good team).

It's strange but Argos also don't seem to have put my review up detailing some of this (in the limited characters they allow) on their site. I wonder why?

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Mind if I climb your garden fence?

This is where it went wrong
We went out caching this morning having seen a ring appear near Egham.  Always nice when there are quite a few to collect.  Few sarnies in the rucksack and off we went, parking up in yet another road we never knew existed were it not for caching.

First of the day was Egham's Wildlife Walk #7 just up from where we had parked up.  A quick search of the wrong tree and then hubby spotted it.  An easy start.  Some nice houses around here.

#8 was up a footpath so off we strolled. We could hear what hubby said was a motorbike and I said was an industrial strimmer in the distance.  Very noisy.  Suddenly the noise got louder and hurtling down the path came a motorcrosser. Not a strimmer then after all.  Plenty of time for him to spot us here but there were lots of bends so I do hope he goes carefully (not for his sake you understand, but for any walkers out here).  Had to wait for him to pass before we grabbed the cache.  A travel bug to help on its journey too which I collected.

Popping out near Piper's End, we crossed the road and down the track.   I was just thinking of darting in the bushes for a tinkle when hubby, fortunately, spotted the CCTV looking both ways down the path.  That was close or I could have been on YouTube!  The motorcrosser was back again making a bit of a mess of trying to get up the steep path.  He seemed to have given up and was trying to do a U-turn in about 3 feet of space on a hill.  He got there in the end and disappeared into the distance once more.  This gave us an opportunity to pick up #9 from its hiding spot.

Down the hilly path we headed until we popped out at a bit of an opening. Here was the motorcrosser again having a ciggie.  We headed down to the left towards #10 as he started his bike again and disappeared in the other direction.  GPS was whizzing backwards and forwards here and we saw a few suspects but lots of pulled down barbed wire was also around so I stood back with the girls while hubby went in to search.  A quick spot. He threw me the cache container and as I caught it I looked down.  Bloody hell! I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes.  I had around 10 on my left leg and 6 on my right - in a blasted line.  This resulted in me slapping my legs and doing some kind of crazy-woman dance trying to get rid of them, which clearly panicked the girls a bit (they were in leggings so quite safe I hasten to add).  Teach me to wear shorts in woods.  Throwing the cache back to hubby and still doing some weird Harlem Shuffle in the leaf litter, I headed off quickly with the girls, keeping a careful eye on my legs.

A train went past.  We now had to cross the track.  Taking a hand each, we opened the gate and carefully looked both ways. All clear and away we went.

The house at the other side of the track is clearly being done up and we said our hellos to the builders all around working and then took a look at the horses with foals as we headed up the lane.

Neigh, it's not near us
Sadly #11 was a DNF for us (and we're the only ones). I'm sure it was an easy one had any of us wanted to look more but there was stagnant water around and I had no intention of being another dinner treat so a cursory look was all we gave it. Plus at GZ there seemed to be a lot of cut down, brown, brambles which are viciously spikey when wearing FitFlops.  Darting away into open track, we dug a sandwich and drink from the rucksack as we carried on our walk.

Crossing over at the end of the lane so that we could walk around the corner at Stroude, we spotted the next footpath and crossed back (really harsh corner to try and cross on) and headed off between the fields to #12, where some more horses watched our antics.

Another great container
An easy spot for #13 with a nice clue.  All signed and away we went, through the field to the next one.

I'm not at all fond of cow fields.  I never was but even less so now hearing about more deaths this year with people being trampled.  I therefore felt quite edgy when I spotted the cows but they were a fair distance away to our left in a group so we walked at a brisk rate down the track.  The cache (#14) was an easy spot and I must have retrieved/signed/replaced at light speed. I did not want to be here any longer than necessary. Fortunately the cows had zero interest in us and we headed off, marching the girls along.

I was in such a hurry to reach the other gate and get away from the cow field, that I just ignored #15 altogether.  Can always pop down another day for that.

Reaching the far gate the homeowner was just getting into his car and looked at us, said hello and "searching for somewhere?" seeing my compass on the phone. "Just having a stroll around the footpaths" came our reply.  He waved as he headed off and we carried on down the lane.

Was about to dart into the bushes to have a tinkle (no, still not had one) when we spotted the house owner up a ladder doing something to a tree just around the corner.  He moved on as we approached and started chatting to another householder a little further down.  Hubby spotted the wasps nest on the right at a cut down tree on the other side of where he had been so we walked past quickly.

My GPS told me that #16 was about 20m from where the two people were chatting.  Spotting the cache immediately, I said "Oh look, lovely ivy climbing here. Let me get a photo for the book" and hubby and the girls stopped while I 'took some photos' (with a pen) of the ivy.  Quick retrieve/sign/replace again. I'm getting good at this. Wonder if they'll do a 'fastest cacher' race at the next Olympics?

We had to do a bit of road walking now around Prune Hill and then over a level crossing, before dipping down the footpath again.  A nice easy find for #1 which is now taking us on the return journey to our car.

Off we go
A stop for a snack and drink and to watch the trains go by (busy bit of railway here).

Teeny-tiny frog - can you spot it?
Off we went again aiming for #2.  We got to a nice piece of wider track.  Hubby spotted a footpath to our right but looking at the map, the track took us around the trees so we could cut through at the end.

This is where it all went wrong....

We walked along the track. A sign appeared at the end of a trampled down bit of corn field to say 'Public Footpath' but that was the wrong direction. To our right it said 'Private Property, No Public right of way' so we decided that the track must - just around the corner - join on to the other piece of public footpath that there was to the right.  We carried on walking.

As we rounded the corner, it was clear that the track did not join the path and to get to the cache would mean walking through long grass and trees across the 'Private' piece of land.  Hubby suggested we go back. I said we should carry on as it's bound to meet up with the path again.  We decided to skip #2 and go straight for #3.  We carried on following the track.

A Thorpe Park roller-coaster in the distance
We knew we'd have to peel off to the right to get to #3 but the track took us further away from it.  I said we should walk across the field. Hubby disagreed.  I said let's go back. Hubby said let's carry on.  A small squabble ensued and we ended up carrying on.  We couldn't see a way across the private land back to the path anyway.

Turned out we were slap, bang in the middle of said 'Private' land, as suggested by the appearance of CCTV with Infrared on a very tall post in front of us.  Oops!  At least they're not likely to shoot us in this country but I could imagine a jeep full of men in black suits and dark glasses turning up any moment asking us what we were doing here.

No sound of a vehicle approaching?  Nope.  Good, we'll go for #4 then. The track headed off into the woods so surely we could walk around the edge of and get to it.  No going back now.

We walked around the woods.  We argued a bit more.  The girls grumbled they were tired and things were prickling them.  They both had a tinkle (away from the CCTV!).

Right, just around the corner we could get to....a 6' fence with rows of barbed wire on top.  Bugger.  Hubby and I had one or two more words.  Carry on came the order from behind.  The path was getting narrower and I had to pick N up to avoid all the nettles.  #5 was getting further away on my map.  This was not good.

Rounding a corner, another CCTV/Infrared set appeared on top of a very tall post.  Whose blasted grounds were these and what were they looking for....or trying to keep in? *gulp*

I was getting angry and turned to hubby and said "We're almost back at Hollow Lane we're so far off course" to which he replied "Great, that's where we're parked".  DOH!  We were around 200m from our car now.  Hooray.

We rounded another corner to be met with 15' high steel gates locked shut with a large padlock and chain and those nice twisty metal bits at the top to stop you climbing over (not that we could have got the girls over them anyway if they'd have been flat).

To our right was a bit of trodden down fence. It seems that whatever had been in this area had escaped - the same way we were about to - through the corner of the bungalow's garden.  Yes!  I went over first and took the girls one by one, putting them over the next bit of fence until they were on the outside part. I then went to get across the second, slightly higher bit of fence which promptly caught me and wouldn't let me go. There was I with one leg either side, stuck. Close but no cigar.  Hubby helped me off by squashing the fence down. I'm free....!!!!

You can see the map of how off-course we had become at the top of the page. Our route through the mysterious land is marked in yellow.

We strolled back to the car grateful to be out of there.  We'll be back to do the other part in reverse down the footpath we should have followed in the first place.

Now off to the pub for a well-earned cold drink.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Back to the Hog

Friends came down for the day yesterday and we headed over to the Hogs Back to do some more of the caches over there and, with enough time, take them to some we did the other day too.

Parking up at 1.30pm, we headed off finding the footpath sign and trotted down the hilly path. Our first of the day was Hogs Back Reservoir (HBR) #16 which was a lovely easy spot for the two little cachers.  Squeals of delight as they 'found' the cache which is always nice.

Away again to JAG002 which confused us for a while.  We were standing on the path thinking we had to scramble up - having checked every possible hiding site around us just in case the GPS was wrong - when Antscroff spotted another path a little further along. Up we all went to look here.  The two little ones got under the holly with ease but we got a bit prickled going through.  I spotted the likely place and the girls went in for the find.  Another one each for them.

Can you spot me?
It was then we realised we could have avoided the holly altogether as the path we needed to be on was carrying on past the cache with nothing but a fern to hinder our walk. Oh well, it's all part of the fun.

The paths crossed around here so we headed off for HBR #4.  The GPS settled and we spotted the suspect hiding place.  However, Madcats climbed a little but couldn't reach the spot she thought it was in. Antscroff was employed as he is much taller than us and made the find.  Good fun but definitely not for shorties.

There's a large Ant in the tree
HBR #3 was next and we soon spotted the likely place from the hint.  Over we went through the prickles and started to explore.  Nothing immediately spotted then Cookie Tiger removed something to look at it and Antscroff made the spot!  Without her doing that, we'd not have seen it. Neat little hide.

We opted to go for HBR #5 next as the circuit is not complete yet.  The CO is releasing them over a period of week (will finally be a figure of 8 apparently) so that new FTF-ers can compete with the local hounds to get a few. Nice idea.  This was a pretty instant spot by me.  Antscroff moved a large item but didn't really take any notice of other ones around there. Having seen one of these type already, I immediately knew what it was and reached for it. Yep!  Thankfully a previous finder had mentioned to hold the fatter part at the bottom or you could easily lose the micro inside completely in the undergrowth.  We all enjoyed this one and a favourite was awarded by me.

HBR #6 was the final one on this bit of path.  As we got to GZ, I spotted a likely candidate and suggested to Cookie Tiger she go get it (well, she is an agile teen) and helped her up the bank with a shove on her bottom.  I'm not sure it was really appreciated but what else are teenagers for? *grin*  The cache was indeed there and she made the find. She threw the container to me and I signed for us all and threw it back.  However, getting down from the bank wasn't easy. She was struggling to hold on and slipping quite badly so I did what any mother would do - I stepped out of the way so she didn't fall on me. Well....  Antscroff gave her a hand down and she got a huge thanks for making the retrieve. The bank is very steep here with little to help you up or down so maybe even a slightly higher terrain rank would be needed.

OK, so now how do I get down?
HBR #14 was next on the list.  Lots of back-tracking needed until this ring is completed.  All good walking areas so we didn't mind. It certainly was keeping us fit!  As we approached, we all headed to one side to start our search but Cookie Tiger had spotted something the other side and made a very quick find. Well done.

HBR #13 was next and we guessed what the hint item would be. As we approached, we were correct, despite our GPS being adamant it was the other side of the track.  This is quite a new release so we were aiming for third to find (collectively) and realised it wasn't a hard cache to get. However, with four of us plus the geokids looking, nothing came to light. Some dog walkers we'd seen previously passed us along with quite a bit of other muggle foot traffic.  S was brilliant saying "Look, a snake" and we all peered in - great distraction technique!  After about 15 minutes we gave up.  Nothing there and DNF logged.

HBR #12 was of the same ilk and same clue so we approached expecting hard work again.  No. There was the cache in the correct location staring us in the face. Our conclusion was that #13 was definitely gone then. I now did a DNF stating how easily we'd found this one. In fact, the difficulty rating should be far lower we felt as it was so obvious.

Back we tracked again and decided to opt for the lower field walk to HBR #2.  The path broke away to our left into the cornfields which was lovely.  We had quite a hill to get up in front of us but this cache was a nice quick spot by Antscroff, although a tricky little thing to get out as it was well wedged in.

Antscroff, GeoButtonGirl and Bashtastic (appropriately with a stick!)
Last of this section was to be HBR #1 further up the path.  This is where things went wrong. The path suddenly narrowed significantly so we went in single file between the stingers/prickles on one side and the barbed wire fence on the other.  We made it to GZ and started our search. We were very unsure what the clue meant and even wondered if it was a spelling error.  Never mind, we began to look. In under the holly went the two little cachers - no fear there - to try and search. I was laughing saying to Antscroff I can't believe he asked my 2 1/2 year old and 4 1/2 year old to go in to find it. He didn't of course, they'd just dived on in (we could see there was nothing nasty there, just a bit low for an adult to get to).  No joy so back out they came.  Between us all we widened our search - significantly.  Reading back through some logs it seemed it could be quite a bit out on the coordinates.  We could see possible hiding places but not all were accessible by any means so we stuck to what was, looking up/down, in/around at each one. After about 15-20 minutes, we gave up.  DNF for this one too.  Oh well. Right back up to the main track to let our friends find some we had already found.  The path was ridiculously narrow here and quite hard to walk along unless you put one foot right in front of the other. The prickles, stingers and barb were all close - too close for little faces and bodies.  We decided to carry the youngest ones through this bit.  Cookie Tiger lifted her littlest sister, Bashtastic, onto her shoulders and away they went with MadCats taking up the rear in case of any trips or stumbles.  Antscroff offered GeoButtonGirl a ride on his and she agreed.  Up she went and I followed behind.  Only a few paces in, she screamed and starting crying hysterically.  I looked up and her eyelid was bleeding.  I quickly got her down and spotted the culprit - a wild rose growing high up.  Oh dear, poor little mite was very upset.  Her arm had been scratched too and her eyelid was bleeding quite a bit. I got a clean wipe out and after trying to calm her down (which took a while) gently wiped the blood away and told her to hold it against her eye.  We were well and truly stuck now.  I had to do a hip carry with her, walking almost crablike to get her away from all the nasties with one foot on the path and the other up on the small bank to the left.  I stumbled a little way further on, grabbed the wire of the fence to stop my fall, it gave way but fortunately Antscroff managed to grab me before I went down with her on my hip. Sadly she also went to grab the fence instinctively but right by the barbed wire which then scratched down her arm. More hysteria ensued as she was really frightened now and just was crying that she wanted to leave here and go home.  Unfortunately there was no easy way out. She was screaming in my ear which wasn't helping my concentration but we managed to calm her down to just sobs and carried on. It seemed like forever (about 100m in truth) before we got out of this part.  That was the only area that caused us an issue today.  Not recommended for young cachers that's for sure (and I put this on my DNF log too so others would know).

We popped out on the main track and stopped for another drink.  Our plans to get many more for our friends were thwarted here as S was now very emotional and tired.  We all agreed just to walk back to the car and our friends would stop to grab the two en-route - both of which were fun caches.

The little ones did tremendously well today and walked just over 4 hours up hill and down dale, which is quite an achievement for a 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 year old.  I'm very, very proud of them.  Even the teen didn't complain (too much).

Back home we came to well deserved ice creams and drinks.  Having a few minutes rest, I left the girls with J and the 3 of us adults whizzed in to Woking to pick up a Sidetracked cache for the souvenir today.  A nice easy cache and dash to finish up bringing my count to 10 for today.

We're meeting our friends again next month but this time to do some caching around Hemel which we're really looking forward to.  Will keep an eye out for the rest of the Hogs Back area to be completed and will go back there when it is (not past #1 of course!).