Tag Archives: geocaching

No Rest for the Silly

Another Friday, another adventure.

Fiona had a birthday party to go to quite late today (4:30 – 6), so I had half-intended to spend the morning quietly so as to leave her with energy for the afternoon. But the day was so sunny, and the kids so chirpy, that I decided we all needed a trip out. There’s been a geocache near us, unfound, for some time: Craigmillar’s One of Four. Off we went.

Alex pointed the way.


Taken 17 February 2006

Fiona checked our heading with a compass.


Taken 17 February 2006

We lucked out. We found the cache really quickly, got good loot, left our trades, and thought, “now what?”

So we walked on round the castle, whcih was magnificent in the glorious sun.


Taken 17 February 2006

Fiona took her own path, at her own pace.


Taken 17 February 2006

We saw lots of trees.

From far away.


Taken 17 February 2006

From up close.


Taken 17 February 2006

And all wrinkly.


Taken 17 February 2006

Ones that look like dragons.


Taken 17 February 2006

And ones that look like island chains! (Cropped, I confess.)


Taken 17 February 2006

Then we rolled back down the hill (no, really, Alex wanted to barrel roll. Fiona tried to join him, but needed a bit of help.) After a brief visit home to lunch, nap and change clothes, we went to Lauren’s party. The kids were perky as they waited for the bus.


Taken 17 February 2006

Fiona loved the party, particularly when painted as a puppy. (Yes, I know it’s out of focus, but she was dancing.)


Taken 17 February 2006

It was a magnificent day. Alex impressed me with his maturity at the party (I asked him to sit out the party games after he won the first one, to give the smaller kids a chance. He not only did so, but he made the effort to smile about it as well. Wow.) Fiona was funny and beautiful. Then they had a delightful bath and went to bed.

Adventure Day

We’re finally out of the Christmas blast radius, and the weather was sunny today. It was time to go out for adventures.

Alex was keen.


Taken 10 February 2006

Fiona was dressed to the nines


Taken 10 February 2006

So we went to the play park, where Fiona was brave and Alex was funny. We bagged the Crag and Tail geocache, then walked down the Royal Mile.

En route we found Adam Waters, who makes his living as a William Wallace (“Braveheart”) impersonator. He explained that he pays the bills with the royalties from postcards, and poses for photos to raise money for lukaemia research. We were happy to donate to the cause, and Alex was keen to cross swords with the guy with the blue face.


Taken 10 February 2006

We were going to go on to lunch, further caches and Starbuck’s, but Fiona fell asleep sitting on my shoulders and leaning on my head. So we got some food and came home for a restful afternoon.

What more could anyone want from an adventure? Travel, courage, treasure and swordfighting, followed by the brave heroes returning to their beloved home for a feast.

A Walk in the Woods

A mouse took a walk in the deep dark wood…

Actually, it was a whole family out searching for the Butterdean Wood geocache, but two keen little children found the idea that a Gruffalo might be lurking among the trees pretty exciting. Martin, clever bunny, proposed a caching expedition to get us out in the beautiful (if chilly) sunshine, and this was a good cache to look for. It was about half an hour’s drive from home, taking us over flat paths that were just wild enough to seem adventurous. They were also perhaps a little muddy.

I brought my phone camera, of course, and stopped from time to time to take pictures.

Fungus on a fallen log.


Taken 4 February 2006

Alex took the GPS and went ahead, following the arrow and talking of treasure. Playing Zelda has sharpened his taste for quests and adventures. He waited patiently whenever I would stop to take a shot.

The twisted stem of some vine – I don’t know what kind. (This picture has been cropped.)


Taken 4 February 2006

Two leaves on a twisting vine.


Taken 4 February 2006

Fiona strode along the path, first with one parent, then with the other. At two, she is rock-steady on her feet and entirely unafraid of any mystery the woods might hold. She has been a strong walker for some time, and I think she enjoyed the challenge. When we were walking together and I would step aside to take a picture, she would venture onward without a backward glance.

Fir cone among the leaves.


Taken 4 February 2006

Eventually, Alex relinquished the GPS in favour of a stick sword, and Fionaberry took over as navigator. (We pretty much followed the path.) She thought my eTrex was a camera, and every now and then would stop, hold it to her face, bend very close to the ground, and say, “I take a picture. Cheese!” before going on. Not a landscape photographer, I guess…

Tangle of sticks, a pattern shot.


Taken 4 February 2006

Lichen on a branch. It’s almost blue!


Taken 4 February 2006

Alex was soon wrapped up in Zelda-esque adventures, which reminded me vividly of my own childhood games. The forest around our cabin was always Lothlorien and Mirkwood, Stephen R Donaldson’s The Land and Sherwood Forest. For him, East Lothian became Link’s country, and he crept and ran through it like the hero of his favourite Game Boy game. I’m happy that our mostly urban life has opportunities for that kind of imaginative play.

He has not yet developed the love of the woods and trees for their own sake that I have. But I learned that a bit older than four. Maybe one day he’ll see it.

The pattern of decay on the limb of a fallen tree reveals so much of its underlying structure.


Taken 4 February 2006

Concentric rings on tree bark. I don’t know why this occurs.


Taken 4 February 2006

Alex used his stick to open “gates”, mostly by keying his name into the trees. This one, in particular, required a number of passwords to be entered. We touched certain parts of the branches and said certain letters, spelling out our names to pass onward along the path.


Taken 4 February 2006

By the time we found the cache, a good half mile from the car park, the kids were running out of adventurous spirit. They weren’t crabby, or unhappy, or even tired, but they were more focused on getting the “treasure” than on telling themselves (and us) stories on the way.

We found the box easily enough – it’s both well hidden from the casual passer by and easy to find if you know where to look – and there were toys enough for both of them. Alex chose a deck of cards, and Fiona took a mini pencil set. I left some stone animals and an amethyst in trade, and we turned back to the car.

Although she wanted to be carried early on for the return journey, Fiona soon regained her energy and did a good deal of walking on the way back to the car. We covered over a mile as a family, and she managed about two thirds of that. Alex walked the whole distance, and wasn’t worn out at the end.

We left the wood as the sun began to head for the horizon.

Late sunshine on brown leaves. The shot looks warmer than it was!


Taken 4 February 2006


Alex has had a bad week or two.

Easrly last Wednsday night (March 3), he threw up at about 1am. He was distraught for the rest of the night, but felt pretty much OK the next day. Fine, we thought, he throws up randomly from time to time.

Then on Friday (March 5), he started again. He was sick through Saturday morning, but felt better in the afternoon. The barfing was worse – we ended up with towels instead of cushion covers on most of the 3-seater sofa (I love washable covers). But when it was over, we thought it was over.

So when he started crying at 3 this morning, we thought it was just a bad dream. Martin went through to him, then came to get me to do the long-traditional barf wash while he showered with the boy. This was made worse because we had Martin’s high-garlic garlic bread, and Alex had eaten rather a lot of it. I leave the fragrance to the imagination, dear reader. Trust me, though, imagination falls short – it took two washes, one at 90° C, to get the smell out of his bedclothes.

Now, the day after the night before, he seems better, but weak. We went out to pull my Dean Bridge for maintenance, and then go hunt another one nearby, but had to come home halfway through the project because he was so tired.

He doesn’t seem ill otherwise. After all the barfing he’s done over the years, we have learned that his digestive system is his “fuse”. When things go wrong, he throws up. I suspect that this is psychological rather than disease-related. More cuddles will be needed, clearly…

Do we LOOK like Batman and Robin?

Lindsay (one of my colleagues) and I went off to do some cache maintenance at lunchtime. We wanted to find out who had logged The Other Leith Walk, put a travel bug in it then come back within our lunch hour. A chance to have a nice walk, a pleasant chat, nothing much.

On our way, we passed a little girl sitting on a bench with her mother kneeling in front of her. I only noticed them because the mother was being very affectionate, stroking the girl’s hair. Their bikes were beside them.

So we get there, but there are pedestrians. We’re standing by the tree, looking up at it & trying to figure out what species it is to kill the time, when a lady stops. “Excuse me,” she says, “but is there something going on up in that tree?” She’s peering into the branches. “Some kind of rare bird nest or something? I’m sure I saw people here yesterday too, and one of them had a camera. Or maybe it was further along.”

Uh, oh, I thought. One set of cachers, who found it yesterday, had a camera. Were they indiscreet? Does she suspect?

We said that we were just trying to figure out what kind of tree it was, and that we didn’t know anything about any rare birds round there. She seemed convinced that it was just coincidence, and went on. Then I inspected the cache, found out that Silver Fox and crustyloafer found it, and left the travel bug in. Reading the log, seeing how enthusiastic the other cachers (crustyloafer and his brother), I was encouraged. Maybe we’ll get another active cacher in Edinburgh.

I’m not really that worried that the cache will be plundered. It is very well hidden, actually, despite how close it is to the path. Still, I think I shall do another visit fairly soon just to be sure.

Then we were walking back when we come across an elderly gentleman trying to hold two bikes (an adult’s and a child’s) upright while leaning on his cane, looking anxiously up and down the path. He was just past the spot where we’d seen the mother and daughter, and he stopped us and asked for help. Apparently, the daughter had fallen quite badly off her bike, and the mother had called an ambulance. He had been passing by, and had offered to take their bikes to his house for safekeeping, but his offer had been more chivalrous than practical. He would have struggled to get one home, let alone the two.

So we walked the bikes back to his house nearby, and carried them up the stairs and into the common hallway where they would be safe. We all nodded smugly at each other, conscious of how good of citizens we were, and Lindsay and I rushed off, coming toward being late back to our desks.

But there must have been something about us – some indefineable Batman-and-Robinishness. We were walking up the hill past Canonmills, debating where to get food, when a Spanish woman stopped us because she couldn’t get her key to turn in her front lock. Neither could we, though we both tried (I think she was at the wrong house).

Good things come in threes, they say. We managed to avoid that. We were just about back to work when a confused-looking Japanese woman tried to cach our eyes. But then another woman passed her, and got ensnared instead. We passed them as the local was explaining that there wasn’t a Texaco anywhere nearby, but that Tesco’s was right over there…

After all that, we were only 5 minutes late back.

Signs and Secrets

Originally entered as a daylog on everything2 for July 8, 2002

Spent lunchtime today double checking the GPS co-ordinates for my second geocache. I am mildly hooked on caching (insofar as I can be in this city, avec toddler & sans car). Cachers tend to be drivers, and even those caches in a town are almost completely devoid of public transport information. So my caching activities are pretty much restricted to Edinburgh, which has three caches in town (by next week, there will be four). I’ve visited one, and will be looking for another on the 11th.

I constructed the third one myself over the last four months. I’m actually quite proud of it. It maps out a six-stage walk through Edinburgh’s Old Town in the footsteps of Burke and Hare. As the searchers go from place to place, they have to look for numbers carven on gravestones, into buildings, and on plaques. The numbers then assemble to make up the GPS co-ordinates for a final location where there’s a grim historical relic. The cache has an E2 connection as well. One fellow noder, nine9, helped me pick some of the locations, and two others (fuzzy_and_blue and Jongleur helped Mom test it. Only one other person has hunted it thus far (Silver Fox, Edinburgh’s only other geocacher), but I’m hoping people will come up for the Edinburgh Festival and spend an afternoon on it.

This second cache is less public — it’s on a footpath that is not at all obvious from the streets nearby. I think non-locals will have trouble finding their way onto the path. Martin and I didn’t realise it was there when we first moved to a flat three blocks from it. Once we found it, I used to walk home from work that way in the summers. It was a secret place, hidden from the main flow of Edinburgh traffic, and I was sorry to abandon it when we moved again. It’s also the gateway to other secret places, such as Warriston Cemetery, with its population of, erm, romantically inclined men.

While I was out scouting for the cache location, I saw my first warchalking mark. Martin told me where it was. I’d walked right by it on July 6, and would have done again if I didn’t know what it meant.

It all makes me wonder what other things are stashed along the path, in holes in the walls and under rocks. What else is hidden around Edinburgh? What of all the graffiti and scribbling on walls is more than it seems? It’s the fascination of spying, of tradecraft but there’s something deeper.

I partake, to some extent, of those family characteristics that get diagnosed as Asperger’s syndrome when they occur in full measure. Some of that is an inability to read the signs, to find the secrets of other people. After all the trouble I have with social interactions, I’ve come to like secrets I can unravel. I wish I could find the GPS location of a hidden agenda, or a glossary of the markings that advertise the truth.