Juneathon 2017, Day 25 – Nipping out for a nano

Today I thought that I could try to find my nearest unfound Geocache in order to add some steps to the day. It’s less than 1km as the crow flies from my house. And it’s a “Church Micro“. This is a series of caches in Britain all set up near churches. They’re generally tiny little containers that are micro in size. Loads of different cache owners across the country maintain their own church micros. This particular cache was the 5,895th church micro to be published, back in 2014. As with all things geocaching related, there are loads of statistics related to Church Micros, which I’m trying desperately not to bore you with right now. I have now found 73 Church Micros, which is a lot less than the person currently topping the ranking at 5,839 finds.

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Pantygwydr church, Swansea

I found the cache relatively easily once I’d found the church. And I thought that I’d have a wander up and down the nearby roads to increase my step count and generally have a nosey around before heading back home.

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Brynmill Park

At one point I spotted Brynmill Park in the distance and decided to head there for a short sit down.

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Fuschias

When I arrived at my new home back in April I was greeted by a lot of plant pots with dead looking things sticking out of them. I’ve since found out that I am now the proud owner of a red and white fuschia. It’s nowhere near as lovely as this beauty. It’s currently only sporting 3 flowers. But you never know, I may manage to keep it alive and next year it might have 4 or 5.

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My Geocaching “Finds” map

And last, but not least, here is a map showing all of my “smilies” in the Swansea area. Now that I can walk again I’m going to slowly try to turn all of those marks into smiley symbols. But perhaps I’ll leave that group to the north east for a while. Some ridiculous cacher went and put them on a massive hill that I’m still not capable of walking around!
*grumble, grumble*
*grumble*
Ach! It’s only annoying because that cacher is my sister. Yes, we’re all at it: the Old Trout shoves stuff out in hedges up in Yorkshire, my sister and her husband are seldom seen out of their “geocaching room” stocked full of plastic delights and half-painted camo containers, and I complete the triad by erm… what do I do exactly?… hmm… I write a lot of nonsense online.

Nipping out for a nano Day: Wander around the Uplands
Steps Taken: 8,129
Difficulty Level: Easy

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Juneathon 2017, Day 22 – Marina Multi-Cache

Today the weather had cooled considerably and mentally I was feeling well so I decided to take my new toy out for a spin.

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Etrex 20x

I got this in the post a couple of days ago. It’s a GPSr to replace one that got water damaged. Lots of geocachers use their phones to find caches nowadays; but I’ve always preferred being able to use a GPSr like this one because it’s rugged (I’m apt to fall over and drop things) and waterproof (you may have noticed, but I also have a tendency to “find” bodies of water and go swimming, intentionally or not). A couple of years ago I upgraded to one which could show maps, and as that’s a feature I really love, this one does too.

A new multi-cache was set in Swansea Marina a couple of days ago. I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to try out my new gadget and get some Juneathon exercise into the bargain.
There are different types of caches. With a traditional cache you get given the coordinates of the container and you go and look for it at those coordinates. A multi-cache is more complicated because it has multiple stages. You start by going to the coordinates you’re given and then by various methods (depending on the cache) you get another set of coordinates to take you off somewhere else. Sometimes a multi can be quick to do, sometimes it can be a rather long-winded affair. When I started caching I happened upon a multi-cache that had 10 separate stages around a patch of woodland. I zig zagged in and out of those trees, up and down, for hours. I think I must have seen every one of the trees several times. I hate to say it, because it makes me sound so strange, but it was great fun. I felt as if the person who had set up the cache was really trying to make it difficult and that challenge was what spurred me on.

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Me, having a well deserved ice-cream


This cache started at an information board beside Swansea Observatory. The Observatory has been disused for quite some time, but there seems to be renovation work going on. Perhaps a cafe?

I however, was more interested in the information board and my ice-cream that I’d bought on the walk to the Marina.
You’re informed that to get to the next stage of the multi-cache to look at the information board, take note of one of the telephone numbers and then plug the number into a code given on the cache page. Having done that I went off in search of the next stage.

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A golden Postbox

And look what I tripped over on the way!
A golden postbox. It’s showing signs of wear now, but I’m not surprised. I knew that there was one in the Marina area, but I’d never seen it until now.

In 2012, to celebrate the achievements of the athletes in the London Olympic Games every British Gold medal winner in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games had a post box painted gold in their honour. This post box was painted from the traditional red to mark Ellie Simmond’s 200m swimming victory.

At this point I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

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A thing

Unfortunately, it was just about here that things took a little turn for the worse. Having picked up the information for the next stage and plotted the coordinates I realised that I was going to have to walk far further than a short bimble around the Marina. It appears that I was heading towards Mumbles!

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Looking over to Mumbles

Well, perhaps not all the way to Mumbles…

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But, you see that large tower in the distance? That’s roughly where I started. Multi-caches can be so evil! By this point, I’d solved all 3 of the stages and was honing in on the cache container. Whoop! Whoop!

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Sore feet

My new sandals hadn’t arrived by the time I left, so I popped these on. My left foot now has slightly less skin than its normal quota, but I’m not complaining. The walk today was worth it. In weather like today (sunny and warm, as opposed to roasting) wandering along beside the beach was so relaxing.

Oh, and I found the cache. ūüėÄ
After all of that effort, this is what I found:

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a nano

And then I walked home, absolutely delighted with my find.

(You’ve got to be at least a little bit bonkers to be a geocacher)

Marina Multi-Cache Day: A walk to find a geocache
Steps Taken: 13,674
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Juneathon 2017, Day 18 – A Day of two parts

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Oystermouth Castle, Mumbles


Early this morning, after leaving the Hawaiian themed party, I decided to wander up to the geocache I maintain in the castle grounds. Quite a few people have found it since my last visit and it was time to check on it. That, and when I passed the taxi office it was heaving with people who’d just been expelled from all of Mumbles’ pubs. I thought that by the time I’d visited the cache I’d be able to at least get to sit down in the office.

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Sharpening the pencil

So it was that I found myself at 0030hrs sitting in the dark, on a grassy hill sharpening a pencil with my penknife. The rest of the cache was in good order except for the fact that it looks as if some blighter has nabbed the bag to put trackables in. (Trackables are small items with unique tracking codes that move from geocache to geocache and are “logged in” online. Some trackables move thousands of miles in the time that they’re out in the wild.) So at some point in the near future I’m going to have to traipse back up the hill with a replacement bag.

And yes, by the time I arrived back at the taxi rank everyone else had gone and I was able to get a taxi within 5 minutes.
That was the first part of the day.

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A bit of crocheting

It was scorching today. It was easily the hottest day of the year. Even the Old Trout headed out for a bit of sun. Apparently that didn’t go too well, as she went to lie down and promptly broke her sunbed. *snigger*

Part two of today’s Juneathon exercising involved not walking anywhere in the heat. Instead, I first completed a 5 minute “bed stretch” and then realised that my new garden has a couple of rather solid, and quite shallow, steps.

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Just in case you don’t know what a step is

I waited until about 9pm and then started stepping. I lasted for roughly 15 minutes. At first I was going too fast as I was moving along to “Uptown Funk”. That got my heart racing and I collapsed afterwards. But a few slower songs ensured that I was able to continue for what I consider to be a really good amount of time.

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Sweaty and happy

A Day of Two Parts: Short walk to Oystermouth castle, bed stretch, 15 minutes of stepping
Steps Taken: 7,182
Difficulty level: Intermediate

Juneathon 2017, Day 8 – Election Day

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Outside Mumbles’ Polling Station

I did it!
I’m incredibly proud of myself today, because I voted.
It took one heck of a push to get myself outside and walking to the bus. I was just so highly stressed about the whole thing.
I’ve had a postal vote ever since I’ve been allowed one. But for that last few years, no matter how many times I sent my form in I never seemed to be signed up for the postal vote. And so it was with this snap election: along came my voting card as opposed to a postal ballot. And because I hadn’t updated my details since my move, I had to head to Mumbles once again in order to cast my vote. That probably made it easier in a way, because I know Mumbles well and have often been inside the village hall. It wasn’t as nerve wracking as entering a new place would have been. And Mumbles isn’t a bad place to go to. After all, look at the view from the polling station of Oystermouth castle.

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Caswell Bay

And afterwards I took the opportunity to do something else I’m rather proud of: I went for a walk to a couple of geocaches that I haven’t been to for quite some time. They’re ones that I look after with my family, but that I haven’t been physically able to get to for a couple of years.

And look: I walked far enough that I can actually show you on a map:

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A map of my walk

I am so flipping chuffed!

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Arachnophobia

I’m probably not going to make too much sense in this blog because I have not only worn myself out, I’m also on a natural high from finally being able to get out and go for a walk away from level pavements.

Arachnophobia is the first of two geocaches that we maintain in Bishop Woods. It’s a night cache. You get to the starting coordinates and then at night with a torch you follow the reflective strips that we’ve placed in a trail around the woods until you finally get to the cache. And in this case: the spiders’ lair. It’s holding up well considering.

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A good place for a quick rest


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Onwards and Upwards!

Just look at how uneven that path is!
And did my knees complain? No they did not. (Well, perhaps just a little)
As I was slowly making my way uphill, a woman passed me with her dogs saying “It’s a long way up isn’t it?” – probably thinking from my sweat smeared face that I was having a rough time of it. But I was just grinning from ear to ear when I replied “Yes. Yes it is isn’t it?”. To think that 6 months ago I was still having difficulty crossing a room!

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Why am I walking inside a bush?

The path to the next cache had me a little stumped. It was all rather more overgrowth than when I was last here and I found myself engulfed in foliage for a good 15m. I knew the path was beneath my feet, but as to where the dratted sky had gone? Well, that was a bit of a mystery.

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The Bishop Woods cache

Thankfully I emerged in the right place. I did my little bit of maintenance: wiped the box clean, topped up the swag, replaced the log and unstuck a couple of slugs using the underside as a meeting place.

And, with my jobs done for the day I wandered off to find my way home.
What a fantastic day!

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A foxglove

Election Day: A walk around Bishop Woods
Steps Taken: 13,366
Difficulty level: Easy

Juneathon 2017, Day 3 – Let’s find a park

I found two parks today. And a geocache.

I’ve been to both parks before, but not for quite a while and I haven’t walked to them from the direction I did today. I actually covered a fair bit of new territory on my walk.

In my 1st Juneathon blog this year I hinted that quite a bit had changed since January. One major change is that I was evicted from the place I rented in Mumbles. In February I was given 2 months to find somewhere new to live. Thankfully my family rallied round and helped me find a place and to move. It’s a lovely little terraced house, built before the 1880s. But it isn’t in Mumbles. Those of you who’ve read my previous blogs will know that I loved living in Mumbles. It was a way of living in a city without putting up with quite as much of the hustle and bustle of a city. I’d walk out of my door and within minutes I could be down at the sea front looking over the wide expanse of Swansea Bay. And because my landlord had decided to sell up I was suddenly uprooted and forced to find somewhere else to live.

I was very worried about what I would be able to get in the short time that we had to find a place. One problem I have is that technically, as I’m disabled, I fall into the “No DSS” remit. So many landlords refuse to have any tenants who are paid housing benefit or any other form of government based income. I get so annoyed about it because I’ve been disabled since my late teens. I’ve had the same income for years and am highly unlikely to get any better, so shouldn’t theoretically have any change of income in the foreseeable future. As such, surely I’m as good a candidate as anyone in my income bracket, with jobs being as short term as they are?

But it all came good.
I’m now closer to the city center, it’s easier to get to food shops, the sea is no further from me now than in Mumbles and the Kinsale Pool Team have said that I can continue to visit them every so often.
So, from my new home I’m now heading out and exploring.

Today I went to Singleton Park and Brynmill Park via a nearby geocache that I hadn’t found.

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A nifty nano at St Paul’s Church

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Singleton Park

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Ducks at Brynmill Park

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Brynmill Park

It was another fantastic day today, improved by the fact that I didn’t get lost on the way to the parks. The two problematic parts of the day came right at the start and at the very end.

At the start as I made my way valiantly up the hill to the cache there was a seemingly endless amount of groups of men walking down the hill. I’ve decided that walking up that hill on a Saturday afternoon just as everyone is deciding to walk down it to go into town for the evening is not good for my health. I try very hard to convince myself that I’m worth something and that I’m entitled to feel good about myself. But if you’re a lone, morbidly obese woman sweating her way up a pavement whilst scores of men dressed up to the nines pass you… well, it wrecked my equanimity somewhat!
And, something I’d like to know is: Where were they all coming from? Why were there no women walking down the hill? If I walked to the very top of the hill would it have been like getting to the end of the rainbow and finding a crock of gold? Would an endless supply of men be mine for the taking? I never found out because I went off to find the geocache instead.

At the end of the day my knees gave up. I was forced to catch a bus part of the way home. I’d really hoped to get all the way back, but nevermind. It was a lovely walk and certainly counts as my Juneathon exercise for today.
But there will be no stretching, squatting or anything else today. I’m done in.

Let’s Find a Park Day: 3.25 mile walk
Steps Taken: 11,802
Difficulty Level: medium

Janathon 2017, Day 23 -Actual geocache maintenance

My family and I own and maintain over 200 geocaches.
We’re the type of people who want you to enjoy what you find. So our caches are generally not ones that have been set out and left to rot in the woods for years. I say generally¬†because the best laid plans of mice and men … well they gang aft agly. There are a few that were put out with the best of intentions, but have been extremely difficult to get to. One of the various problems we’ve faced is that my mobility has deteriorated badly in the last few years, making places that I could walk to easily four or five years ago very difficult now.

So, we try our best, but it isn’t always as good as we’d have liked. Roughly a fortnight ago someone let us know that they’d lost the lid from one of our caches. Running repairs were made, but it was obvious that the cache container needed to be replaced. And I’ve been trying to get there ever since. If you’ve read any of my other blog posts you’ll know that this is because I’ve either been too tired, or anxious, or agoraphobic or any one of countless other naff reasons to walk to the bus and then to the cache. But, today I made it.

And so, today’s Janathon exercise entailed walking to the bus, then along the sea front (yes, the Front – that nice, flat tarmaced path that I saunter along regularly) to the cache. Roughly¬†1.5 miles.

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Dusk

I actually checked on three caches today. But of course, I didn’t have the sense to take photos of any of them. So those of you that are still at a loss as to what this malarky is all about, well you’ll not have much of a clue so I’ll try to paint the best picture that I can: Flat tarmaced cycle track at dusk. Lots of cyclists, Lots of runners, plus yours truly. I walk along (complete with flashing headtorch) trying to work out which tree the first cache is hidden beneath. This is normally okay in the daylight. I’ve been there loads of times before, so I know that I’m looking for an “inny bit” just before a tree. It doesn’t take me long and I’ve spotted the “inny bit”. Nope. Wrong one… try again…. that one led me over on to the beach. Hmm…

The thing to remember is that yours truly is never actually lost, she just looks it. Oh, and confused. I just do my best to brave it out and pretend that what I’m doing is utterly normal. Yes, I’ve just appeared from the bushes swearing. Yes, I’ve just headed back into different bushes with a squeal of delight. All normal, quite normal.

The first cache was finally found and checked.
The second cache took longer to find and involved lying down in the undergrowth, in the dark, praying that nobody could spot my boots from the path and stopped to ask if I was okay.
But the third, the one I went to replace, that’s a blighter. I’m surprised that no one’s lost the lid before. The cache itself is right on the sea front, attached to a tree 10m up from the beach. To reach it, you have to scrabble down 3m and then search the tree. Whilst I merrily clung on to the tree for dear life I exchanged the film pots and took a photo (as you do).

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Looking towards Mumbles

And then, job done I headed to the nearest bus stop. I couldn’t have asked for better weather. But perhaps next time I might be able to force myself to head out in daylight.
Here’s hoping.

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Looking towards Swansea City Center

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Time to go home

Actual Geocache Maintenance Day: 1.5 mile walk
Steps Taken: 6,774
Difficulty Level: Easy

Janathon 2017, Day 21 – Bribery

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The Old Trout came and went. She left me with one of the little sprats: this time, my nephew. I dragged him out just after dark by bribing him with the promise of sausage and chips. He seemed happy enough to wander up to the castle as well so that I could complete today’s Janathon exercise.

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Yet again I was heading up to the castle to check on my geocache. It is a “trackable hotel” so I often go to swap the trackables around. Trackables are little items like keyrings that geocachers set off with goals such as “I’d like this trackable to visit every county in Britain” or “Please take photos of me near the sea”. These items are picked up and moved on from geocache to geocache by geocachers. Sometimes they’re moved with the goal in mind, and sometimes just moved to keep them moving.
Each Trackable has a unique tracking number and this allows them to be tracked, logged, and photos uploaded of their locations and journeys. Some trackables keep moving for thousands of miles and visit multiple continents, far further than their owners have ever been. Others unfortunately get lost after a couple of weeks and never get anywhere.

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This is one of my trackables. The day that I moved from Inverness (In the Highlands of Scotland) to Mumbles (in South Wales) I set two trackables loose in a cache near to where I used to live. One of them disappeared into the ether quite quickly. The other, which is the one in the picture, it reached Mumbles safe and sound just over 3 years after I set it off.

And yes, after some fun flashing torches around, rolling down the hill, swapping things in the geocache and pretending that there was a giant lizard attacking the castle my nephew and I returned home content. He accepted his bribe of sausage and chips merrily (and I quite enjoyed mine too).

Bribery day: 1 mile walk
Steps Taken: 5,409
Difficulty level: Easy