Geocaching

Ah Geocaching – You may have never heard of it, or have and don’t play it or you are a GEOCACHER! You can be a Geocacher from any country and it is a global game which means you can play it at home or abroad: How awesome is that?

Now to answer the question you might be asking, Yes I am a Geocacher but I’m nowhere near prolific compared to many others. I often hunt out geocaches when I travel abroad as many are placed in areas of significance but not the norm for a tourist to visit, exploring a place of interest and/or beauty. Of course, I have found geocaches in my local area and actually own one myself after adopting it from a fellow geocacher – I walk pass the location 2-3 times a week and I do not live far that any maintenance/replacement can be done fairly quickly.

If you have watched the video at the top of the video then you have learned what geocaching is and if you haven’t – Go watch it! It is an activity for all abilities, whether you play regularly or not. I am able but I have also been out with groups of people with a range of disabilities from being blind, in a wheelchair, learning and mental – It really is an inclusive activity.

Geocache containers and their hiding places

As the video states, geocaches range in size, containers and difficulty. Thy can be small nano containers which are magentic, or large containers with treasures that a pirate would be proud of. You can be taken into the centre of a city filled with lots of people or into the hills, where there are less people. Those whom don’t know of this game are known as “Muggles” and the aim is to grab a geocache (cache for short), sign the logbook and return it as exactly as you found it without being discovered – Trickier than you think! However, whilst many find enjoyment of being a ninja, if you get the odd look, lack subtlety or just want to celebrate your acheivement, it is okay! (Seriously, it is.) Just remember, other geocachers maybe near by and you want them to have the same journey or discovery as you did, as it’s all part of the fun. Some of the hiding places are very ingenious, so if you think something might be a little crazy, check it!

On the hunt for geocaches…

What do you need? The answer is is the video, either a phone with GPS or a GPS device and many people find that the latter are often more accurate but both devices will encounter similiar problems and that is mainly sateillite coverage. If you go to find a cache in the woodlands and their is a lot of folliage, expect the ‘distance’ to be off and when you get within 30ft of the cache location, start looking. I have got 2ft within a cache location before according to the GPS and the cache itself was actually about another 10ft away. These things like many aspects of the game will come to you in time, also learning new little things that build up your experience, skills and knowledge of the game.

There are many tips out there and a large community to support and share stories. Each geocache will have a little information on them about the cache itself, maybe a handy hint (if you are struggling) but it is also handy to read previous logged comments by other geocachers too.

Come on… join us!

 

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My Travel Map – Update

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I have finally taken my travel map off the wall and updated the European section, the map last updated in January 2015. As a scratch-a-map,  you have to scratch off the countries you have visited but this means that sometimes, you accidentally scratch out tiny countries you haven’t been to, through no fault of your own.

The countries I scratched off this time, are:

  1. Germany (2015 & 2016)
  2. Austria (2015)
  3. Hungary (2015/16)
  4. The Netherlands (2016)
  5. Belguim (2016)

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Countries I need to visit to make my travel map completely accurate (aka Scratched off by accident):

  1. Luxembourg
  2. Monacco
  3. Andorra

 

Yorkshire: Little Dear Woods ~ A Revisit

In my previous post about Little Dear Woods an Outdoors Centre in Mirfield, West Yorkshire I did say I would be back and I have – The theme for this visit? Bushcraft!

Over Christmas 2015, parts of Yorkshire and other parts of the UK were affected by serious flooding after continous heavy rainfall with little stoppage in rain over days to allow land to dry. Rivers and lakes burst their banks causing signifcant damage to homes and businesses with still much recovery still to do at the time of writing (May 2016). Little Dear Woods was no exception, the facilities under 3ft of water on Boxing Day with staff members being able to canoe all over the property accessing the damage. At the time of our visit (March 2016 – Yes, a bit of a delay but didn’t want to interrupt the Budapest posts!), the centre was open for business and whilst parts of the centres such as the climbing wall etc were still out of bounds it was clear that the staff had put in a lot of hard work to make the business operational again.

Our bushcraft session consisted of three activities which you can learn more about below:

 

Activity 1 – Making Fire for the Kelly Kettle

Ah, making fire – An interesting topic! So many resources, ways to do it and how to do it yet even the most experienced even struggle in all conditions even the right ones. I have soent many summers building fires exploring different methods, trying new ideas, sharing other people’s ideas and experiences – This is sometimes a blessing and a curse.

Any how… Today’s aim was create a fire within the base of a kelly kettle to boil the hot water within to make hot drinks for later in the afternoon. Kelly kettles are a great piece of kit in my opinion that I have used in the past and yet again, I digress…

With a fire steel and some cotton wool our group was shown how to use this former listed item as well as the best way to use the cotton wool by teasing it out slowly so their is a higher surface area for fire sparks to catch it. After successful attempts at this in pairs, we moved on to try adding vasoline to the cotton wool (remember to wash your hands of the vasoline before you try to light), as well as trying silver birch bark and bullrush with and without cotton wool. Silver birch bark is great almost better than paper to start a fire due to the oils in the bark, whilst bullrush is an extremely poor in lighting if at all BUT only when used on its own. When bullrush is placed on top of the teased out cotton wool and both materials alight, the materials burn a lot longer than they would normally individually which is great when you need to start building that fire slowly bigger and bigger.

Using a combination of cotton wool, silver birch bark and small sticks to use in the base of the kelly kettle once we got a small fire going we placed the top of the kelly kettle over the base and started to add sticks gradually increasing in lengths through the hole in the top of the kettle whilst adding needed air through the base by blowing. It took both groups a while to get going but their was a great sense relief when the fire truly takes hold and within 5 minutes the water begins to boil.

Activity Two – Atlatl (Spear-Thrower)

Letting the kelly kettles to breathe, we moved onto our next activity which required us to look around the grounds for long sticks, one per person to make an Atlatl (a spear-thrower) which using a sharp blade would wittle an edge pointed enough to fit into the end of a cane to throw over distances. After a health and safety demonstration about how to use the knife, we got to work and I have to say I was very proud of mine as working with woods and knives is something I have had very little experience with.

Once we had all finished it was spear-throwing time!! Going to a clear area set aside at Little Dear Woods for such an activity, we all took turns attempting to use our Atlatl’s to throw a bamboo cane over a field using the tradition method and it isn’t easy to throw it at a great distance, but as we practised more and more we made slow increases in our throws.

Activity 3 – Marshmellows

To finish our activity session off it naturally had to end with hot drinks and roasting marshmellows over an open fire. Using the hot water from the kelly kettles we had used earlier in the fire making activity, it was a nice end to a pleasant day – Shame about the unpredictable weather but hey ho, that is the UK for you!

 

The question is now… what adventure shall we carry out with Little Dear Woods next?

Tips, Tricks & Hacks: Keep Calm

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A travel hack that relates to life overall: Keep Calm and Carry On!

However, I would also add… refuse to give up!

Whatever situation you find yourself in, the first reaction is often to panic, a feeling of being overwhelmed with no solution. Try to become calm, breathe and take stock of the situation and as you do that, you’ll be able to process some solutions whether it is for the short-term or the long. Consider the factors whether it is time, information, supplies but also know your own capabilities – Of course, different factors arise for each circumstance so a list would be exhausive but things will happen during your travels and life, so be prepared, keep calm, carry on and refuse to give up!

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year to you all!!

It’s been an interesting year, a lot of challenges and learning curves in many areas of my life that I hope I will settle into properly as the New Year progresses.

Travel has been another feature of 2015, entering the year in Portugal, visiting Germany and Austria as well as a short summer in Ireland, revisiting old haunts, catching up with friends and creating even more memories. As I teased in my earlier post, I am spending my New Year abroad in Europe, the where? Budapest, Hungary! I’m going to update that travel map ASAP!

Upon my return, I aim to start typing up my time and experiences in this European city, as well as my previous New Year exploits in Lisbon, Portugal. Keep those eyes peeled!

 

I didn’t get as much online learning done as I hoped, but it is something I am going to work on in 2016 and might even apply to University to complete some credits.
 

As for my book challenge and bucklet list, I will update on all that upon my return! I also have a few more London posts for you to keep an eye out for – Busy, busy!

London: Prime Meridian Of The World

This is a firm bucket list entry for many people – “To straddle the Prime Meridian Line, one foot in the Eastern Hemisphere and the other in the West.” To do that, doing it in London is the place to be at the The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, also home to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Set in the Greenwich World Heritage Site area which also features Cutty Sark, Queen’s House, the Peter Harrison Planetarium and the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory is home to an Astronomy Centre, Flamsteed House and Meridian Courtyard with these two latter places costing you £9.50 to enter (Astronomy Centre is free), so factor that in to your bucket list experience. Due to this draw for many across the world, expect the Meridian Courtyard to be busy with people, their cameras and various combinations and ideas to mark the occassion.


I DID IT!

Crossed off the bucket list in 2014 😀


As the Royal Observatory is at the top of a very tall hill you are natually granted an impressive view over the capital and surrounding area.