Saturday, 28 March 2015


We have enjoyed a few trips to London in the last few months, usually combining caching with a trip to the theatre or mainly concentrating on playing Wherigos, this time we decided to concentrate solely on the top favourited caches that were on our unfound list.  We booked the train tickets a few weeks ago and I planned a route that looked doable in a day to include hopping on and off the tube and a fair bit of walking.

We caught the 7:05 train from Warwick Parkway and arrived at London Marylebone at 8.30, then it was straight onto the tube to St Paul's Cathedral, stopping off for cake and coffee on the way of course ... gotta keep refuelled..... the big bowl of porridge that I'd eaten at 5.30am had started to wear off by now.

St Paul's Cathedral opened to visitors at 8.30am so we decided it would be best to go there first before the crowds.

The Golden Gallery Virtual (167 favourite points) at St Paul's Cathedral has been on our to-do list ever since we started caching as we've always enjoyed finding virtuals as it's quite rare they're not in interesting places.  So today was the day to finally tick this one off the list.  I had pre-booked the entry tickets on-line, this saves £1 on each ticket and also means you can have fast-track entry and if you gift-aid you can have free return visits for 12 months.  At £15 each the entry is quite steep but I would say it was definitely worth it, we spent a good couple of hours looking around, you get a free audio tour and are able to go right up into the Golden Gallery which is where you need to be to do the virtual.  It was quite a climb up the 528 steps but a fantastic view at the top.

Clear view of Millennium Bridge from the Golden Gallery
Part of the way up you get to experience the Whispering Gallery, I was really excited about seeing this as Mark had visited St Paul's years ago and had told me about it - I walked around the other side in the hope of hearing Mark whisper from the other side of the dome but it was rather noisy so very difficult to hear.  There are other Whispering Galleries around the world but St Paul's is the place where whispering-gallery waves were first discovered by Lord Rayleigh c.1878.

I was hoping to take photos inside the cathedral but unfortunately photography was not allowed only outside from the Golden Gallery at the top.

During the week I noticed that the Shaun in the City sculptures were on their way to London and would be arriving in time for our visit today.  So although we knew we wouldn't have time to go Shaun spotting all day we would at least look out for them on our route and we managed to see a few of them. Out of a possible 50 we spotted 8.

Next on our 'favourites' tour was: Wobbly Bridge with 127 favourite points.  This cache is placed near the Millennium Bridge.  The steel suspension bridge was nicknamed by Londoners as the 'Wobbly Bridge' after charity walkers taking part in an event crossed the bridge and felt an unexpected swaying motion, the bridge had only been open two days! The bridge was closed later that day, and after two days of limited access the bridge was closed for almost two years while modifications were made to eliminate the wobble entirely.  It reopened again in 2002.
'Wobbly Bridge'

Winchester Geese was next on the must-do list - it's been active since 2007 and has 315 fave points to date.  The co-ordinates take you to an unconsecrated graveyard where the prostitutes and paupers of the Borough were buried from medieval times until the 1850's.  It is believed that 15,000 are buried here.  In medieval times the prostitutes of the area (known as the Winchester Geese) were licensed by the Bishop of Winchester but were denied burial in consecrated ground. The graveyard was later used as a paupers burial ground. The graveyard was rediscovered when bodies were found during the building of the Jubilee line.  Since the bodies were discovered a local group called Friends of Cross Bones have been campaigning to get a small memorial garden for the forgotten dead on this site and when we visited we saw that this memorial garden was well under way.

Memorial Garden under construction

We were lucky that we'd arrived just in time for the open afternoon and we were able to have a walk around the small garden and see the progress.  We would never have known about this place if it weren't for this amazing hobby.
'Winchester Geese'

From here we walked to Father Thames and The Mermaid (AS TIDES GOES BY) with 342 favourite points since May 2012.  We had heard about this one and knew it was best attempted at low-tide, we had no idea if the tide would be in or out when we got there so it was pure luck that we got there and the tide was well out and we were able to walk to it with ease.  This was a brilliant one and we thoroughly enjoyed it, highly recommended it and it was in such a peaceful spot away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds.

Next one on our planned list was LQ: City.  Although we have found caches in all the mainland counties in England we have yet to find all the LQ caches so we have been making a concerted effort this year to find them if we are in the vicinity. 
HMS President near LQ: City

Then it was a tube ride and a short walk to Trafalgar Square which has been given 157 FPs since September last year.  We had heard quite a lot about this one recently so we added it to our to-do list for today.  We were lucky to go straight to it and it really was an excellent hide.

I have been looking forward to going to Neal's Yard for quite some time, ever since I saw a photo of the little narrow street as it reminded me of some of the lovely places we've been on our travels in Belgium and Holland.  The cache there is called Reflections of Neal's Yard and a lot of stealth is required to retrieve it, the name makes a lot of sense once you get there.

Then it was back on the tube to Oxford Street and Regent Street for a bit of shopping before running for the tube to catch the train back to Warwick and home again.

A brilliant day, can't wait to go back to London, we hope to plan another trip again soon.

    Monday, 16 March 2015

    Hoorn Mega

    Where's Hoorn?  Hoorn's here!
    Hoorn Mega

    We first became aware of this potential Mega Event while at the Catalonia Mega last October. We kept an eye on it and when it went mega we decided attending might be in order. The original plan was for both of us to go and spend a long weekend in the area, catching the overnight ferry from Harwich – a crossing we’ve done in the past. However, as time moved on, other travel plans fell into place and we abandoned our plans to attend the Hoorn Mega.  We decided it would use up too much of our holiday and, although we’d intended to use Tesco Clubcard vouchers for the ferry crossing, we’d found a better deal to use them on our main holiday later in the year.

    Naturally, the story doesn’t end there…. If it had it wouldn't have made a very interesting blog.

    An email arrived from P&O a few weeks ago offering Dover to Calais day trips for £24 return…. Hmm
    Plus an extra £5 for weekend crossings and a plan started forming:

    Drive to Dover in the afternoon, catch the earliest crossing possible, whiz up to Hoorn, attend Mega find some caches, attend CITO whiz back to Calais, cross back to Dover and drive home.
    No problem!
    Apart from the distances that is! We live about 200 miles from Dover and Hoorn is 250 miles from Calais!!!
    Needless to say, Donna wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of 14+ hours’ driving so said that I could go by myself if I wanted.

    Friday 13th March
    Left home about 14:30 and headed towards Kent. I’d planned to find a few caches in Kent on the way. All was going fine until all sorts of strange warning lights came on in the car.  The car is only a year old and we’ve not had any problems at all with it in that time so this wasn’t looking good.  Then the fuel gauge suddenly showed empty … not good at all.  The car was still running OK so I left the M25 near Chertsey and filled up at Tesco. I continued to Ashford and did the caches I had planned and then thought maybe it would be a good idea to get an opinion on these warning lights.
    I phoned the breakdown bods telling them I was due to board a ferry at 02:00 and they arranged for a mechanic to meet me in Dover just after 22:00.
    Of course, when the mechanic arrived he could find no faults and said that it should be OK to continue my journey. Super!
    Cachemobile having a health check!

    I checked in at the port and waited in the queue for boarding. Phone rang. It was the breakdown cover bods informing me that although the mechanic couldn’t find a problem they would not be able to cover the cost if I broke-down on the other side of The Channel as it was now an ‘existing fault’ (or something like that). This was not really something I wanted to hear.

    Saturday 14th March
    I was actually put on a 00:45 ferry and it was absolutely packed. I managed to find a nice comfy sofa  and settle down to sleep with my pillow and sleeping-bag  (essential for anything closely resembling sleep).

     Arrived in Calais and headed Northwards. After about 100 miles the warning lights came on again!!
    Arrgghhh!!  Turn back or carry on?
    Carry on of course! Luckily, the journey was uneventful and I arrived in Hoorn in plenty of time to do a few caches before continuing on to the Mega for 10:00

    Hoorn Town Centre

    The Shipboys of Bontekoe

    One thing that was very noticeable was that, unlike back home, there was no sign of Spring anywhere! There were no snowdrops, daffodils or trees in blossom. It was quite bleak actually.

    The Mega event was a similar format to the Bruges Bier Mega and had the usual trade stands, GSAK and Wherigo workshops etc.  There was also a load of new caches including some Wherigos and six Lab caches. Four of the Lab caches were within the building and involved solving a puzzle or performing a task of some sort to get the code. Of the other two, one was about 7 miles away so I didn’t bother with it but the final one was back in Hoorn exactly where I had been caching earlier.


    Mega Venue

    One of the many rooms being used

    Not many attendees from the UK, but it was still quite early

    I completed two of the new Wherigos and Lab Caches before heading back into Hoorn for the other Lab Cache and finish off a Wherigo I had started earlier.

    All done, now to head to the CITO for 15:00.  The CITO was due to run until 16:00 but had started a bit early and by 15:30 it was clear that there was no more litter picking to do so we all dispersed.


    Super! This would give me a bit more time to get to Calais for the 20:55 crossing. This was just as well really as it took aaaaaaages to get though passport control.  I know they have to be thorough and all that but perhaps they could have more than just two of the possible ten barriers in action.  In the end I checked-in with only 35 minutes to spare. The ferry was only half-full this time.

    Stopped for a short sleep in one of the motorway services on the way home and arrived home at 02:00

    All in all an enjoyable trip, wasn’t quite the same on my own as Donna and I love to travel together but it was fun and as is usual when visiting mega events I met some very friendly people and hopefully made a few new friends.

    Our car has a travelbug on it and I think it's been 'discovered' more times at Hoorn than at any previous Event. Mind you, it was the only car in the carpark with British number plates so it was quite distinctive!

    Total driving distance: 942 miles
    Three new icons for The Netherlands: Mega, CITO and Lab Cache meaning we have now found twelve different type in The Netherlands

    Thursday, 12 March 2015

    It's nearly Spring

    Wow, where is the year going, is it really March already?!  This is the first blog entry of the year.  We've enjoyed a couple of trips so far this year but unfortunately haven't had time to write about them as we've been busy with non-caching related commitments and work keeps getting in the way too  

    LQ: Dorset

    The plan for today was to find LQ: Dorset before heading into Dorchester.  We haven't found many of the LQ series so thought that we'd make a concerted effort to look them up if we're in the area this year.  LQ Dorset was in a nice little spot on the coast, overlooking the sea, just a short walk from the car and a good opportunity to bag a trigpoint not too far away.
    VERY windy!

    This was our first visit to Dorchester.  Dorchester is the county town of Dorset, the author Thomas Hardy lived here and Dorchester was the inspiration to his novel The Mayor of Casterbridge which was based on the town.

    Our main priority was to play the Wherigo but we also had a few others caches on our to-do list.  We did a very interesting 8 stage multi and also gathered info for a puzzle as we walked around doing the Roamin' Around Durnovia series.

    We can highly recommend The Loft cafe which was down a quaint narrow street called Antelope Walk, we stopped off whilst doing the Wherigo for coffee and cake.  It is quite well known that I am partial to carrot cake, I love making them and friends and family regularly request them but I mostly enjoy eating them.  On Saturdays, if at all possible, when we are out caching, I look out for cafés and coffee shops that sell carrot cake.  The Loft looked just the place that would sell carrot cake but when we went inside, much to my dismay, there was no carrot cake so we very reluctantly settled for some Chocolate Guinness cake.  What can I say! WOW WOW WOW! It was the most amazing cake I've ever tasted!  Can't believe I'd never tried any before or let alone even heard of it!  After posting a photo of this gorgeous cake on Facebook, a friend has provided me with the recipe!!  I could talk about amazing cake for hours on end but back to the caching...

    At the end of the Wherigo we went back to the car to get our bikes so we could continue exploring the town and find a few more caches until it got dark.

    Glastonbury Tor

    On Sunday we checked out of our hotel and headed off to Glastonbury stopping off for a challenge cache on the way.

    The old cache on Glastonbury Tor has been on our to-do list for a long time so we decided we'd spend the morning in Glastonbury.
    Colourful Glastonbury High Street

    Glastonbury is very much a 'New Age' town due to the myths and legends surrounding the nearby Tor and also the proximity of ley lines to the town.
    Tower sliding down the hill

    The walk up Tor was very windy but was well worth it for the views at the top. There is a roofless stone tower at the top, called St Michael's Tower which is a grade 1 listed building and was built in the 14th century. The original wooden church was destroyed by an earthquake in 1275.
    Tibetan Prayer Wheels

    We came across some Tibetan Prayer Wheels on our walk around the town.   The Sanskrit mantra 'Om mani padme hum' is carved onto the wheels and it is said that the effect of spinning the wheels is the same as reciting the mantra as many times as it is duplicated within the wheel.

    We visited the Chalice Well earthcache after our walk up the Tor.  At the spring we had to taste the water, we won't give anything away so as not to spoil it for others but safe to say it tasted nicer than the Harrogate spring water.

    It was great fun exploring this interesting little town.  Oh and no trip would be complete without the obligatory coffee and cake which amazingly, the first café we stopped at had Chocolate Guinness cake!!  So of course we had to sample it.  This was at Heaphys café, Market Place, which we can highly recommend, lovely coffee.
    Mmmmm Cake

    All too soon it was time to leave Glastonbury and head off to the Cotswolds where we were due to attend the Cotswold Caching Event.  This was the 2nd event of its kind and the idea is that it will move around the Cotswolds bi-monthly throughout 2015.  This time it was at The Fox Inn at Great Barrington.  It was good to catch up with a few friends before heading home.