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

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