The cone, in the Clyne – Juneathon 2018, Day 8

I am writing this at nearly 3am on Saturday morning because I am a dirty stop-out. I admit that I went out galavanting without writing my Juneathon blog for Friday. However, it was agreed a while ago that as long as I didn’t go to sleep in between the two, it still counted as writing a blog for the previous day. So there!

Today I walked along the Clyne for my Juneathon exercise. In May I checked the geocache series that my family maintains along the Clyne and discovered that one was missing. Today I went to replace it.

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First I put all the parts together at home to make the replacement cache: The clip lock container, the note, the swag, the pencil and the log to sign to prove that a geocacher has actually found it.

And then I hopped on the bus and started on up the Clyne. This cache’s name is “C… I Spy Series”. It was part of 26 caches that were all alphabetically themed. “O… I Spy Series” for instance, is an owl perched on a tree with a logsheet stuck unfortunately up her bottom.
The hope is that people can try to guess what the letters stand for and have a surprise when they reach the cache.

As I got off the bus at the bottom end of the Clyne I was hoping desperately that the C… was still in place and that no one had taken it since my last visit. It’s been there for a few years, so there was no real reason that it would have suddenly vanished. But you never know.

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The Clyne is now a lovely picturesque cyclepath, but it was once the line of the London, Midland and Scottish railway. There are old platforms and various relics of this part of the Clyne’s history still in evidence today.

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Including this lump of moss-covered coal just down from the track, that I picked up today.

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I love walking along the Clyne. It’s a joy to step away from the paved streets of the City of Swansea. Yes, the cyclepath is tarmaced, but there are lots of opportunities to take yourself away from that path and delve a little deeper into the woodland. I decided to do that for a few moments today when I reached the pond in the Clyne. I took a short detour around its outer edge, before heading back again on to the main track.

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Thankfully the “C” was still where I’d left it last time. Many moons ago my sister and her husband cycled along the track with this bright orange cone and deposited it a few feet from where it is now. We geocachers do quite odd things for our hobby, I’ll admit it.

Not only was I grateful for the fact that the cone was still there, I sighed with relief when I found that the cache container actually fit inside it, as I had hoped it would. You try deciding from memory what plastic box would fit inside a bright orange cone that you left in the woods a fortnight ago. It isn’t easy you know!

And, just to ensure that you’re aware how ridiculous the life of a geocacher can be: in those woods I have also had to maintain the following: A plastic maze, a rat with glowing red eyes, a pinecone, a washing machine (yes, you read that correctly), an owl, a dustbin, a  UFO, some Ivy, a First aid box, a gun cartridge, a lizard lounging on a log, a tyre, and a zip. All of which have a log sheet attached to them somewhere, for fellow geocachers to sign. And all of which I have replaced or salvaged at some point or other. And every time I have aquired twigs stuck in my hair, mud on my face, or some other caching mark of honour.

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Today I stood in dog poo and had to wash it off in the stream. I don’t think I collected any twigs. But you never know.
All in all, it was a successful and enjoyable walk. I did exactly what I intended to do and returned home in one piece.

Day 8 – Walk along the Clyne
Steps Taken – 12,560

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Another excuse for a walk – Juneathon 2018, Day 5

I thought that I’d brave the world again today. This time I decided that I’d head out to the Tesco Superstore to buy food for when my nephew turns up after school tomorrow. So off I headed, in the opposite direction from Tesco.

Swansea is a lovely city to live in. There are lots of well maintained parks, flowers, benches etc. not to mention the vast expanse of beach that is Swansea Bay.
I used to come to Swansea as a child with my grandparents. I remember it as a massive place, full of shops like Toys-R-Us and the indoor market with the promise of cockles for tea. But predominantly I got a sense of a dismal, dreary hole. We’d arrive at the claustrophobic and smelly Orchard street multi-storey car park, only to be taken by the hand carefully as we past equally dirty and scary beggars. The Swansea of my childhood was not somewhere I’d ever imagined living.

And yet there’s so much more to the place. Something I found out when I decided to move down from Inverness to be closer to my sister. Because of the severity of my schizophrenia and other mental health problems, I’ve never felt able to have children. Had I ever had a long-term partner, then perhaps… but that just never happened. So I dote on my niece and nephew instead. But you can’t dote particularly well if you’re living up in the Highlands of Scotland 600 miles away. So, as soon as somewhere suitable was found, I moved down. And it’s been one of the best decisions of my life.

Erm… where was I?

Oh yes, walking the wrong way…
If I walked straight to Tescos I’d have been traipsing down one of the murkiest streets that Swansea has to offer. But, by heading in a little bit of a triangle, the magical parts of the city appear. (And it makes my walk an entire mile)

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Firstly, past the Brangwyn Hall and it’s prominent clock tower. (Yep, I took a photo of that yesterday)

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Then down to the sea front. (With Mumbles head and lighthouse in the distance. Also mentioned and photographed yesterday and possibly the day before. Sorry about that.)

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And continuing along the Front. This is the line of the old Swansea to Mumbles Tramway which many people want to bring back. I’d do my very best to oppose that. This path is one of the best things about Swansea. So many people use it for so many different reasons. And it’s free.

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I’ve been trying to photograph and identify flowers this year. This one is Ragwort, also lovingly known as “Stinking Willie”. I have no idea yet what the other one was. That’s why I tried to natter about the old use of the cyclepath, so that you didn’t realise.

Oh! Just to ensure that you can get your bearings, please note the blurry Meridian Tower in the background of the Ragwort photo. That’s Wales’ tallest building 😉

I had a great walk today and felt really happy and well when I arrived at Tescos. Strawberries were bought and other sundries collected. Unfortunately, I probably walked down one too many isles because by the time I’d arrived at the checkout I’d flipped mentally. I was confused, tired and nothing was making much sense.
Drat it all! I’d really hoped to get home without having to struggle.
But at least the bus station is right beside the shop.

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Here is a selfie in the bus station. (I think my days must seem very boring to you now. I really must find something new to take pictures of.) But it seemed like a good idea to take a photo of the seats. I am always so grateful for these seats.

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And here is a little more evidence of my state of confusion. Whilst waiting the 20 minutes for the bus, I decided that I must get a photo of one of the resident pigeons. Out of roughly 50 photos, this is the best one that I got. Oh well, at least it kept me distracted.
And it doesn’t diminish the fact that I had another lovely walk.

Day 5 – 1 mile walk
Steps Taken – 7,194

A surprise visit – Juneathon 2018, Day 4

I was at a loss as to what I’d do for today’s Janathon effort. Something which I mentioned to the Old Trout. Her suggestion was to visit my sister and her brood. Most of the time the Old Trout’s suggestions are completely useless. But having thought of nothing better myself, I decided that it was worth a go.

The plan would be this: I would walk to the bus station, buy some nibbles in the small Co-op at the station, catch a bus up the hill to the nearest stop to my sister’s house and then slog my way valiantly up the road to her house.

As usual, things did not go to plan.
When do things ever go to plan?

But, in this case, they went better than planned. I had forgotten that on the way to the bus station I walk past a Tesco Express. I don’t precisely know how I could have forgotten that fact. That is the road that leads into town, one which I constantly walk along. But just to show that I can be extremely flexible with things such as “plans”, I popped in there instead of the Co-op and emerged complete with cake, cream and other assorted goodies.

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It was when I arrived at the bus station and saw how few buses there were, that the first niggles of doubt struck. I had thought that it was still early enough to visit my sister. But what if it wasn’t? What if everyone was in bed? Normally I’d worry that they’d have jetted off to some beach or other, but yesterday was my oldest Sprat’s 12th birthday and the family had just returned from a few days camping and theme parking. That would stop them from being out this evening after school wouldn’t it?

I rang my sister and told her I was on the bus.
She did not sound amused.

Hmm…
Well, I’d reached my daily step goal. And the bus was the Townhill circular… I could stay on, have a ride around and then go back down the hill to the bus station. It would still count as completing my exercise for Janathon. And really, I didn’t fancy slogging up that hill to her house. It was reasonably late, but still incredibly hot and muggy.

But I had a brainwave. It isn’t called the Townhill bus for nothing. It trundles up the hill to my sister’s stop, and then it carries on further up. Using the wonderful internet invention thingy I quickly looked to see if I could get off on a stop further up the hill and walk down to the house. Modern technology is bloomin’ marvelous!

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I was able to walk around the hill, enjoy some stunning views and then drop down through a park to the house. In the photo above you can see the Mumbles lighthouse in the very far distance. My house is near the prominent clock tower of the Brangwyn Hall.

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And this is the view looking east towards Port Talbot. The Meridian tower on the far right hand side of the photo is the tallest building in Wales, standing at 107m (351ft) with 29 floors.

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And down, to the house.

Where I got a far warmer reception than I’d expected.
Apparently she’d just been dozing off and didn’t really know who she was speaking to, let alone what I was actually telling her.
And the sprats seemed happy to see me. They nattered on and on about amazing rides they’d been to. At least I didn’t feel left out, most rides are too thrilling for me. I get scared witless on a big wheel.

And then I produced the goodies. Apparently they’d had exactly the same cake the day before! Oh well, great minds think alike, I suppose… or, we both shop at Tesco.

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Neither sprat seemed to mind.

It had been a well executed plan. I bid them Nôs Da and headed off down the hill to slowly make my way home.

Um… I didn’t make it very far. The youngest sprat had decided to have screaming habdabs on my departure. So, having made my way down a particularly steep street, I came face to face with said tear-stained sprat and her pyjama-clad mother, who had just pulled up in the car.
It’s hard to deal with my niece at times. She is far younger than her 10 years and it can often seem as if she’s a spoilt brat, when she just doesn’t understand the world as well as most children her age. But today I have to admit that I was quite glad that she’d wanted to make certain that I got home okay.

Day 4 – A half mile walk
Steps Taken – 4,903

Juneathon 2017, Day 29 – Dentist Day

 

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Today I visited the dentist for the first time in over three years.

I’m not particularly scared of going to the dentist, but my inability to walk easily and bouts of agoraphobia meant that I just never got around to going. Plus, although I qualify for free dental care on the NHS due to my low income, I was having to pay for it, because trying to get an NHS dentist is nearly impossible. (I waited for 6 years in Inverness before I got wind of a practise that had an availability.) This time it was my sister who tripped over the NHS slots and grabbed one for me.

I very nearly didn’t get there. Mentally during the last few days I’ve been in the doldrums. Not feeling really bad, but not quite right either. I’m always amazed at how being in a poor mental state can make everything physically more difficult too. My legs ache more, my body just niggles at me. And that was what it was like today: I virtually crawled out of the door to walk to the bus stop.

But, I did get to the dentist. And it was a relatively pain free experience.
I had a bit of a panic attack trying to get into the building as I’d never been before. But having scouted it all out beforehand using Street View on Google Earth I knew exactly where I was going and which door I had to enter. On the first pass, as I said, I lucked out. I didn’t have quite enough “bravery” momentum to get me through the door and I carried on walking instead. But I got in on the second try.

One of the worst things for me is that dentists invariably will tell you off for your poor dental hygiene. This is especially bad for someone dealing with my mental health issues because I’m paranoid that if I don’t do things correctly then someone will come along and kill me. Don’t ask me who, I’ve no idea. My brain is totally bonkers. Actually, I’m glad that it’s never formulated a massive conspiracy theory as to the precise nature of the people that are going to come and kill me, because then it would be far harder for me to dismiss it.
Normally I don’t have to put up with that little voice screaming at me to “be good”. Normally… unless I get stressed. And dentists stress everybody out, right?

But this dentist was lovely. I mentioned that I had mental health issues and his posture changed, ever so slightly. I thought “uh oh, here we go. He’s either going to talk to me as if I’m an imbecile, or his eyes are going to flit warily between myself and the door the whole time.” But I was pleasantly surprised. He told me clearly what he was going to do and why and not once did he castigate me for not brushing often enough.

Upon emerging I was very happy. I have a tooth that needs filling. But more importantly I wasn’t scared of returning.
I was unfortunately worn out from the whole encounter. So why I then decided to walk home is a bit of a mystery. Because it’s good for me I suppose.
I enjoyed the walk. But it took aeons because my legs felt like lead and my brain had gone just a little bit off kilter from the whole “dentist” thing.

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In the dunes

I even took a short detour into the dunes. I haven’t been along this little boardwalk before.

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Looking over to Mumbles

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Swansea’s tallest building

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Hmm…

It took me a little while to work out why there were loudspeakers strung along the beach. At first I thought that they may have been left over from last week’s half marathon. And then I remembered that it’s the Airshow on Saturday and Sunday. If all goes well with the weather we’ll be treated with displays by the Red Arrows and a variety of other magnificent flying machines. For today though, we’ve got a line of speakers on the sand playing tinny music.

Not a bad day at all 🙂

Dentist Day: 3 mile walk home
Steps Taken: 11,210
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Juneathon 2017, Day 26 – An Accidental walk

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The bat

The Old Trout asked me to make her a bat.
It may be nearly a month late, but I have made it.

The bat is part of a geocache that’s she’s making up in Yorkshire. I’ve already made a few bats before for a cache that my sister and I maintain down in South Wales. I’m getting good at making bats. Or at least I was, until the Ebay supplier of MDF bat shapes stopped selling them. This bat is the first I’ve made with Fimo ( a plastic clay that bakes in a normal oven).  But I think it’s turned out well enough, so off to England it is going.

And here is where the “accidental” walk comes in. I set off to the Post Office with my bat filled parcel in hand, expecting to only be out 5 minutes. Instead, when I reached the counter there was a large scrappy cardboard sign saying “Post Office Closed”. Apparently the Post Office would be closed for the next 15 minutes because the Post Mistress was having a cigarette break.

Well, that was all fine and dandy, but what was I to do? There I was, with my “outside clothes” on. You know, the ones that are good enough to head to your local Post Office a couple of streets away, but not ones you’d head to town in. Did I want to walk back home, sit down in my outdoor clothes and then return? I certainly couldn’t stand around waiting for 15 minutes (No, I’m not entirely certain why not either) and I couldn’t walk to the main Post Office in the city center because of said clothes. Instead I thought I’d walk to the beach and back.

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The tide was out

I arrived at the beach, realising that in order to do that I had to cross Swansea’s main thoroughfare. The one that was at a standstill with everyone staring out of their cars, utterly bored. And there’s me, in my less than great outside clothes.
Good job I don’t really care. It was something that crossed my mind, but briefly,  I rather like wandering about in my crocodile crop top, “Pow” tunic top and purple shorts, so at least it gave them a erm… shall we say “visual spectacle” to ease the monotony.

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Trying to get a more unusual photo

It was really hot today. And just a little stifling. Which is why, when I’d reached the beach and spotted the nearby cafe my priorities changed completely and I went in search of an ice-cream.

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Delicious

Look at that: heaven on a stick!

And then it was time to wander back to post my bat. But to ensure I didn’t get too boring on this rather accidentally, chaotic day (Oh, if only all chaos was as pleasant) I returned a different way, via Victoria Park. The flowers look stunning at the moment. It’s amazing how many different varieties are packed into such a relatively small space.

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I posted the bat. And I had hoped to do a little bit of extra exercise today to compliment the walk, but time has run away with me. So, that’s all for today.

An Accidental walk day: Walk to the 360 center and back
Steps Taken: 5,458
Difficulty Level: Easy

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

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. 😀
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