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Dan Q couldn’t find GC98N4G Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #9 James Bond

This checkin to GC98N4G Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #9 James Bond reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Cycling back to Stanton Harcourt from Witney I thought I’d try for just one more cache, while the light’s still in the sky. But try as I might, I couldn’t find this troublesome little blighter. Given the recent logs, I worry it might have been muggled.

Map of 51.772017,-1.429467

Dan Q found GC98N40 Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #8 E.T.

This checkin to GC98N40 Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #8 E.T. reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

My last cache before I pedal on to Witney for my pizza supper! I soon found the hiding place but it still took me a long while to find exactly where the cache was hidden… and even longer to extract it from the depths of its narrow hiding place. In the end I needed to manufacture a tool – a loop of metal made from a paperclip, taped to the tip of a pin – to snag it. Managed in the end, and felt like I’d earned my pizza. (Attached pic is of me about a quarter hour later enjoying my picnic!)

Dan sits on the grass with a Dominos pizza box and a can of beer. His bike is in the background, leaning on a stylistically-corroded piece of metal artwork.

Map of 51.773917,-1.433683

Dan Q found GC98N3F Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #7 Elisabeth Moss

This checkin to GC98N3F Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #7 Elisabeth Moss reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Spotting the geotrail here was easy. Avoiding the spiky plants was harder, and for the first time today I regretted having dressed so lightly. Found the cache without difficulty, but returned from its hiding place with my shins covered in sticky-grass. Yet more picking away flora was needed before I could press on on my bike.

This trail’s been fantastic so far; I wish I’d brought the kids – they’d have loved it! Well, actually I’m glad I didn’t because it’s their bedtime, but under different circumstances I’d totally come back again and bring them!

Map of 51.7724,-1.4373

Dan Q found GC98N2V Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #6 Treebeard

This checkin to GC98N2V Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #6 Treebeard reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

The combine harvesters have been out in force today – a small flotilla of them passed my house earlier this afternoon – and I soon found evidence that they’d been here before me. Fresh cut rows of corn, the straw piled up and ready for baling, dominated the golden fields. There are two major landmarks in sight here that made my ‘cacher brain tingle, but one of them isn’t on the path. I zipped over to the other and soon found the cache: nice to see a more-regular-sized one after so many smaller ones today.

Stopped for a drink break here because the heat was starting to get to me and – as the picture shows! – I was turning into a sweaty mess. But I was glad of the view, while I did so.

Selfie of Dan standing by a tree in a freshly-mowed cornfield.

Map of 51.770817,-1.440983

Dan Q found GC98N1P Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #5 LOST

This checkin to GC98N1P Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #5 LOST reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Like all the other caches on this trail, the coordinates for this were spot on and I was delighted and surprised to find a most-excellent themed cache. The container was a little hard to open: perhaps there’s an emergency lever somewhere on the inside that I just couldn’t see? ;-) FP awarded. TFTC.

Map of 51.769333,-1.443267

Dan Q found GC98N15 Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #4 You’ve Got Mail

This checkin to GC98N15 Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #4 You've Got Mail reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

At this point the path reached its worst point, and the long summer grass was beginning to tangle around the spokes of my bike wheel. I used stopping to find this easy-to-spot cache as my excuse to stop and tidy up my transport before pressing on to – fortunately – easier cycling conditions ahead.

Map of 51.76675,-1.4431

Dan Q found GC98MZC Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #2 Four Weddings

This checkin to GC98MZC Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #2 Four Weddings reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

I spent a long time looking in all the wrong places before I finally… swung around… to the right way of thinking. Brilliant hiding place, FP awarded.

I’d figured that this path, being listed as a bridleway, would be suitable for my bike: i.e. relatively broad and flat, no stiles, etc. I was partially right, and the path soon became a little bumpy for my mostly road-going bike, but it worked out.

Map of 51.7618,-1.4421

Dan Q found GC98MY7 Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #1 Baywatch

This checkin to GC98MY7 Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop #1 Baywatch reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

I decided this evening to get out into the (cooling, but still quite hot!) air and cycle to Witney for a pizza picnic. And if I was going to do that, I figured, then it’s not much of a diversion of my route from Stanton Harcourt to go via the first half of the Tar Lakes/South Leigh Loop while I’m out.

I started by cycling up the old West Oxfordshire Cycleway/Tar Lane to this car park. I’ve walked around the lakes previously and noticed the position of the object referenced in the hint, and so as soon as I was in the vicinity I knew where I’d be looking. Soon the cache was in hand!

Map of 51.762283,-1.44755

Lichfield

We took a family trip up to Lichfield this weekend. I don’t know if I can give a “review” of a city-break as a whole, but if I can: I give you five stars, Lichfield.

Dan in front of Lichfield Cathedral, early on Sunday morning.
It’s got a cathedral, which is quite pretty.

Maybe it’s just because we’ve none of us had a night away from The Green… pretty-much since we moved in, last year. But there was something magical about doing things reminiscent of the “old normal”.

Dan and the kids in a bed at a hotel.
“I’m so excited! We get to stay… at a Premier Inn!” At first I rolled my eyes at this joyous line from our 4-year-old (I mean… it’s just a Premier Inn…), but it did feel good to go somewhere and do something.

It’s not that like wasn’t plenty of mask-wearing and social distancing and hand sanitiser and everything that we’ve gotten used to now: there certainly was. The magic, though, came from getting to do an expedition further away from home than we’re used to. And, perhaps, with that happening to coincide with glorious weather and fun times.

A balloon artist wearing a unicorn on her head makes sculptures for children.
Socially-distanced balloon modelling turns out to work, not least because you can hand one of those long balloons to somebody without getting anywhere near them.

We spent an unimaginably hot summer’s day watching an outdoor interpretation of Peter and the Wolf, which each of the little ones has learned about in reasonable depth, at some point or another, as part of the (fantastic) “Monkey Music” classes of which they’re now both graduates.

Ruth and John sit on a picnic blanket in a painted circle; the maquee for the band is behind them.
So long as you weren’t staring at the painted circles on the grass – for corralling families apart from one another – you’d easily forget how unusual things are, right now.

And maybe it’s that they’ve been out-of-action for so long and are only just beginning to once again ramp up… or maybe I’ve just forgotten what the hospitality industry is like?… but man, we felt well-looked after.

From the staff at the hotel who despite the clear challenges of running their establishment under the necessary restrictions still went the extra mile to make the kids feel special to the restaurant we went to that pulled out all the stops to give us all a great evening, I basically came out of the thing with the impression of Lichfield as a really nice place.

Dan in Lichfield city centre, deserted early on a Sunday morning.
Take social distancing to the next level: do your urban geocaching at the crack of dawn.

I’m not saying that it was perfect. A combination of the intolerable heat (or else the desiccating effect of the air conditioner) and a mattress that sagged with two adults on it meant that I didn’t sleep much on Saturday night (although that did mean I could get up at 5am for a geocaching expedition around the city before it got too hot later on). And an hour and a half of driving to get to a place where you’re going to see a one-hour show feels long, especially in this age where I don’t really travel anywhere, ever.

But that’s not the point.

Ruth and the kids eat breakfast
The buffet was closed, of course, but these kids were made for an “all you can eat” breakfast.

The point is that Lichfield made me happy, this weekend. And I don’t know how much of that is that it’s just a nice place and how much is that I’ve missed going anywhere or doing anything, but either way, it lead to a delightful weekend.

Dan Q found GC84Q4F Sam’s Cache

This checkin to GC84Q4F Sam's Cache reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

As the attached picture shows, there was not a soul to be seen out here this morning but that didn’t stop me from feeling like I had to use stealth as I mooched suspiciously around this exposed corner. Went straight past the correct location and spent an embarrassing amount of time looking at exactly the wrong pieces of metal before returning to what turned out to be the right place. TFTC!

Dan near the corner of the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum in Lichfield, in a deserted public square early in the morning.

Map of 52.68345,-1.8279

Dan Q found GC7B9HC Church Micro 11050…Lichfield Cathedral

This checkin to GC7B9HC Church Micro 11050...Lichfield Cathedral reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

TFTC. Answers already sent to CO, except the photo which is attached to this log!

Out for an early morning caching expedition because my hotel bed was uncomfortable so I woke up early and with a need to stretch and move. Delighted to find this wonderfully-placed virtual; thanks for sharing. Greetings from Oxfordshire!

Dan in froint of Lichfield Cathedral, waving

Map of 52.685067,-1.831633