Dan Q found GC340EG Leslie

This checkin to GC340EG Leslie reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

I find myself in Cropredy but once a year, at most, and for the obvious reason. The festival atmosphere, not to mention the hordes of revellers, does not in general bode well for a successful geocaching expedition! But I’ve persisted, mostly by virtue of being an early riser than most of the partygoers and inclined towards a swift morning constitutional (as mentioned here), and I’ve gradually picked off each of the local caches bar this one and a multi that’s somewhat incompatible with the festival.

This time last year I came very near to this GZ while hunting for GC9GK2V “Mr Impossible”, but it was coming close to the time I anticipated that the kids would wake up and demand breakfast, so I turned around before reaching “Leslie”. This year I’ve pressed directly on to this cache, thankful for the cool damp air through which my brisk walk took me compared to last year’s saunalike heat.

As others have noted, the cache container has seen better days but it’s still just about holding together (insert your own joke about aging folk rockers here). Regardless, a delightful morning walk before a day of music. SL, TFTC.

Dan, on a path through a young cornfield, stares towards the distant clouds.

Dan, on a path through a young cornfield, stares towards the distant clouds.×

Dan Q found GC340FP Sanders

This checkin to GC340FP Sanders reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

I managed to log most of the local geocaches during last year’s Fairport by getting up early each morning (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), while the other revellers were still nursing their hangovers, but I wasn’t able to retrieve this muddle-laden one. This year I had better luck and the kids, dog and I soon had it in hand. SL, TNLN, TFTC!

Photograph showing Dan, wearing a "go both ways" t-shirt and a rainbow-striped bandana and grey shorts, sits between a 6-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl (the girl is wearing a Pikachu hat).

Photograph showing Dan, wearing a "go both ways" t-shirt and a rainbow-striped bandana and grey shorts, sits between a 6-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl (the girl is wearing a Pikachu hat).×

Dan Q found GC7A2NK 1. Placket Pathway

This checkin to GC7A2NK 1. Placket Pathway reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

After a garden party next door last night I think I was first to wake up this morning as the sun shone through my tent. I was literally just sleeping in the field adjoining, not a hundred metres or so from the cache (the buildings here are in my partner‘s aunts garden!). Hopping the fence wasn’t tempting, so I left her garden normally then came down the path like I was supposed to and soon had the cache in hand.

Campsite in the Paddock behind Ruth's aunt's house

Anniversary at Wriggles Brook

Three weeks ago was (give or take a few weeks because we’ve never bothered with accuracy) the end of Ruth and I’s 8th year together, and we marked the occasion with a mini-break away for a few nights. We spent the first two nights in a ‘showman’-style gypsy caravan in Herefordshire, and it was amazing enough that I wanted to share it with you:

'Showman' caravan at Wriggles Brook
It wasn’t quite dusk yet, but we couldn’t resist the urge to light the fire (and the dozens of tiny lanterns).

The place we went was Wriggles Brook, a ‘glamping’-style site in the shadow of the Forest of Dean. In a long field that twists its way alongside a babbling brook, the owners have set up a trio of traditional horse-drawn caravans, each in a wooded clearing that isolates it from the others. Two of the caravans are smaller, designed just for couples (who are clearly the target market for this romantic getaway spot), but we took the third, larger, (centenarian!) one, which sported a separate living room and bedroom.

Annabel in wellies stomps through the orchard at Wriggles Brook.
Between our caravan and the others the owners grew a varied orchard, which Annabel found particularly interesting. By which I mean delicious.

The bedroom was set up so that children could be accommodated in a bunk under the adults (with their own string of fairy lights and teeny-tiny windows, but after she bumped her head on the underside of the beams Annabel decided that she didn’t want to sleep there, so we set up her travel cot in the living room.

Dan and Annabel on the hammock.
Annabel and I swinging on the hammock near the

So yeah: a beautiful setting, imaginative and ecologically-friendly accommodation, and about a billion activities on your doorstep. Even the almost-complete lack of phone signal into the valley was pretty delightful, although it did make consulting Google Maps difficult when we got lost about 20 minutes out from the place! But if there’s one thing that really does deserve extra-special mention, it’s the food!

Steam train in the Forest of Dean.
Nearby activities include steam trains. That’s all I needed to hear, really.

Our hosts were able to put on a spectacular breakfast and evening meal for us each night, including a variety of freshly-grown produce from their own land. We generally ate in their mini dining room – itself a greenhouse for their grapevines – but it was equally-nice to have pancakes delivered to the picnic table right outside our caravan. And speaking as somebody who’s had their fair share of second-rate veggie breakfasts over the last… what, four and a half years?… it was a great relief to enjoy a quite-brilliant variety of vegetarian cuisine from a clearly-talented chef.

A speed bump sign in heavy undergrowth.
I’m not sure why the Wriggles Brook site has ocassional signs like this sticking out of the undergrowth, but they sort-of fit the eccentricity of the place.

So yeah – five stars for Wriggles Brook in Herefordshire if you’re looking for an awesome romantic getaway, with or without an accompanying toddler. Ruth and I later palmed the little one off on JTA so that we could have a night away without her, too, which – while fun (even if we didn’t get to try all 280+ gins at the restaurant we ate at) – wasn’t quite so worthy of mention as the unusual gypsy-caravan-escape that had preceded it. I’m hoping that we’ll get out to Wriggles Brook again.

'Showman' caravan at Wriggles Brook× Annabel in wellies stomps through the orchard at Wriggles Brook.× Dan and Annabel on the hammock.× Steam train in the Forest of Dean.× A speed bump sign in heavy undergrowth.×

Instead Of Blogging…

Things I’ve been doing instead of blogging, this last month, include:

  • Code Week: hacking Three Rings code in a converted hay loft of a Derbyshire farm, as mentioned on the Three Rings blog.
  • Hoghton Tower: as is traditional at this time of year (see blog posts from 2010, 2009, 2005, 2003, for example), went to Preston for the Hoghton Tower concert and fireworks display, accompanied by Ruth, and my sister’s 22nd birthday. My other sister has more to say about it.
  • Family Picnic: Joining Ruth and JTA at Ruth’s annual family picnic, among her billions of second-cousins and third-aunts.
  • New Earthwarming: Having a mini housewarming on New Earth, where I live with Ruth, JTA, and Paul. A surprising number of people came from surprisingly far away, and it was fascinating to see some really interesting networking being done by a mixture of local people (from our various different “circles” down here) and distant guests.
  • Bodleian Staff Summer Party: Yet another reason to love my new employer! The drinks and the hog roast (well, roast vegetable sandwiches and falafel wraps for me, but still delicious) would have won me over by themselves. The band was just a bonus. The ice cream van that turned up and started dispensing free 99s: that was all just icing on the already-fabulous cake.
  • TeachMeet: Giving a 2-minute nanopresentation at the first Oxford Libraries TeachMeet, entitled Your Password Sucks. A copy of my presentation (now with annotations to make up for the fact that you can’t hear me talking over it) has been uploaded to the website.
  • New Earth Games Night: Like Geek Night, but with folks local to us, here, some of whom might have been put off by being called “Geeks”, in that strange way that people sometimes do. Also, hanging out with the Oxford On Board folks, who do similar things on Monday nights in the pub nearest my office.
  • Meeting Oxford Nightline: Oxford University’s Nightline is just about the only Nightline in the British Isles to not be using Three Rings, and they’re right on my doorstep, so I’ve been meeting up with some of their folks in order to try to work out why. Maybe, some day, I’ll actually understand the answer to that question.
  • Alton Towers & Camping: Ruth and I decided to celebrate the 4th anniversary of us getting together with a trip to Alton Towers, where their new ride, Thirteen, is really quite good (but don’t read up on it: it’s best enjoyed spoiler-free!), and a camping trip in the Lake District, with an exhausting but fulfilling trek to the summit of Glaramara.
Setting up camp at Stonethwaite.

That’s quite a lot of stuff, even aside from the usual work/volunteering/etc. stuff that goes on in my life, so it’s little wonder that I’ve neglected to blog about it all. Of course, there’s a guilt-inspired downside to this approach, and that’s that one feels compelled to not blog about anything else until finishing writing about the first neglected thing, and so the problem snowballs.

So this quick summary, above? That’s sort-of a declaration of blogger-bankruptcy on these topics, so I can finally stop thinking “Hmm, can’t blog about X until I’ve written about Code Week!”