Geohashing expedition 2024-02-10 51 -1

This checkin to geohash 2024-02-10 51 -1 reflects a geohashing expedition. See more of Dan's hash logs.

Location

Field between Cumnor and Appleton, West Oxfordshire

Participants

Plans

I haven’t hashed for long enough that my home graticule got marked as inactive. I’ve got a little free time this morning, so let’s fix that!

Expedition

It took two attempts to reach this hashpoint.

The first attempt saw me set off around 09:40, with a plan to drive over the world’s stupidest toll bridge (paying 5p for the privilege), park up in Cumnor somewhere, then work down the Cumnor-Appleton footpath before dipping into the fields (which are likely to be fallow this time of year) to claim the hashpoint. I suggested to take the dog, and the 7-year-old child asked if he could join me too, so the three of us with our eight legs set off.

This winter’s seen heavy rain around these parts, and the stream that runs alongside the footpath had broken its banks and flooded the fields. The water had receded, but the ground remained extremely boggy. That kind of thick, wellie-sucking mud that means that if you stop walking for more than a couple of seconds, you might as well give up and say you live there now because your boot is never coming back.

The kid found the going especially-tough, especially after a particularly-deep puddle splashed over the edge of his wellies, and asked to turn back. The dog was finding it a bit challenging too! So we doubled-back and found a geocache a little way off the path. We’ve generally been disappointed by Cumnor’s geocaches and especially this series, finding them to be ill-maintained or completely absent, but it looks like the cache owner has been working on repairing and replacing them towards the tail end of last year and this one was soon found. I drove the dog and child home (back across the toll bridge), then came back out myself (paying the fivepence toll a third time). So began the second attempt:

Unburdened by short-legged dogs and damp-footed kids, I made better progress. At points, the path was completely flooded-out, but this gave me an excuse to walk along the “tramlines” of the cultivator that must’ve been working in the field last year, which put me on a better course to reach the hashpoint. By 11:06 I was well within the circle of uncertainty and declared the mission a success.

Then I plodged back through the mud, changed my footwear, and drove over the toll bridge a fourth time. The attendant, clearly sick of seeing me driving back and forth, took pity on me and let me off without paying yet another 5p piece, so that was nice.

Tracklog

Map showing a route from Sutton, Stanton Harcourt, over the Swinford Toll Bridge, South into Cumnor, and then out into some fields South of that.Download tracklog.

Photos

A waterlogged path alongside a field.
This “path” seems to be a stream.
Green Wellington boots in deep sticky mud.
Muddy boots
GPSr, held up in a fallow field, reading 209m from destination.
200 metres to go.
GPSr showing 0 metres to destination. A reflection of Dan's face can be seen in its screen.
Zero point!
Dan, smiling, holding up his GPSr, in a field.
Silly grin
A field with furrows and wispy clouds above.
View North from the hashpoint.
An electricity pylon stands along in a green/brown field.
View East from the hashpoint.
A field with furrows with a tree line in the distance.
View South from the hashpoint.
The edge of a field, becoming increasingly waterlogged into the distance.
View West from the hashpoint.
A waterlogged path alongside a field.× Green Wellington boots in deep sticky mud.× GPSr, held up in a fallow field, reading 209m from destination.× GPSr showing 0 metres to destination. A reflection of Dan's face can be seen in its screen.× Dan, smiling, holding up his GPSr, in a field.× A field with furrows and wispy clouds above.× An electricity pylon stands along in a green/brown field.× A field with furrows with a tree line in the distance.× The edge of a field, becoming increasingly waterlogged into the distance.× Map showing a route from Sutton, Stanton Harcourt, over the Swinford Toll Bridge, South into Cumnor, and then out into some fields South of that.×

[Bloganuary] The Gift of Time

This post is part of my attempt at Bloganuary 2024. Today’s prompt is:

What is the greatest gift someone could give you?

What topical timing, given that it’ll be my birthday in four days!

Dan, wearing wizard's robes alongside two similarly-dressed children, makes cocktails using a selection of bizarre-looking laboratory equipment.
My birthday is slightly overshadowed by the proximity to it of our eldest child’s birthday, but we can still find enough overlap of interest to do some fun things. Here we are last year, for example, at a magic-themed cocktail-making workshop (with non-alcoholic recipes for the kids, of course).

Of the things I have least but treasure most, perhaps the biggest is time. Between work, volunteering, and childcare, I often find myself rushing to cram-in any of the diversity of “play” activities I engage in.1

I always feel particularly guilty if I step away to do “me things” that put me out of reach, because I know that while I’m off having fun, my absence necessarily means that somebody else has to be the one to break up whatever child squabble is happening right now2. It feels particularly extravagant to, for example, spend a weekend in pursuit of a distant geohash point or two3.

Dan drinking beer from a Wye Valley Brewery pint glass.
A fancy dinner in a hotel bar in the middle of a two-day geohashing expedition across the Midlands, as far from work and home responsibilities as I can manage? Yes please!

So one of the best gifts I ever received was for my birthday the year before last, when Ruth gave me “a weekend off”4, affording me the opportunity to do exactly that. I picked some dates and she, JTA, and the kids vanished, leaving me free to spend a few days hacking my way from Herefordshire to somewhere near Birmingham in what turned out to be the worst floods of the year. It was delightful.5

Most people can’t give me “time”: it doesn’t grow on trees, and I haven’t found a place to order it online. It’s not even always practical to help me reclaim my own time by taking fixed timesinks off my to-do list6. But for those that can, it’s a great gift that I really appreciate.

It’s my birthday on Monday, if anybody wants to volunteer for childminding duties at any point. Just sayin’. 😅

Footnotes

1 It’s even harder when I occasionally try to fit a course around that.

2 Ours can be a particularly squabbly pair, and really know how to push one another’s buttons to escalate a fight!

3 Unless I were to take the kids with me: then if feels fine, but then I’ve got a different problem to deal with! The dog’s enough of a handful when you’re out traipsing through a bog in the rain!

4 Last year, she gave me tango lessons, which also broke me out of my routine and felt like a weekend off, but in a very different way.

5 I think that Ruth feels that her gift to me on my 41st birthday was tacky, perhaps because for her it was a “fallback”: what she came up with after failing to buy a more-conventional gift. But seriously: a scheduled weekend to disconnect from everything else in my life was an especially well-received gift.

6 Not least because I’m such a control freak that some of the biggest timesinks in my life are things I would struggle to delegate or even accept help with!

Dan, wearing wizard's robes alongside two similarly-dressed children, makes cocktails using a selection of bizarre-looking laboratory equipment.× Dan drinking beer from a Wye Valley Brewery pint glass.×

[Bloganuary] Playtime

This post is part of my attempt at Bloganuary 2024. Today’s prompt is:

Do you play in your daily life? What says “playtime” to you?

How do I play? Let me count the ways!

RPGs

I’m involved in no fewer than three different RPG campaigns (DMing the one for The Levellers) right now, plus periodic one-shots. I love a good roleplaying game, especially one that puts character-building and storytelling above rules-lawyering and munchkinery, specifically because that kind of collaborative, imaginative experience feels more like the kind of thing we call “play” when done it’s done by children!

Composite photo showing a young boy rolling a D20 onto a character sheet in front of a tabletop battlemap, and three monitors in a dark room showing a video chat between people and a digital gameboard.
Family D&D and Abnib D&D might have a distinctly different tone, but they’re still both playtime activities.

Videogames

I don’t feel like I get remotely as much videogaming time as I used to, and in theory I’ve become more-selective about exactly what I spend my time on1.

Dan with his thumbs-up in front of the high-score table (with the top-ranking spot about to be filled) of Wonder Boy, on a generic "80s Arcade Classics" arcade cabinet.
I managed to beat Wonder Boy last week, and it “only” took me three and a half decades!

Board Games

Similarly, I don’t feel like I get as much time to grind through my oversized board games collection as I used to2, but that’s improving as the kids get older and can be roped-into a wider diversity of games3.

A girl, sat in front of an Agricola farmyard board, holds up a "sheeple" (small wooden sheep game piece) for the camera.
Our youngest wakes early on weekend mornings and asks to kick off his day with board games. Our eldest, pictured, has grown to the point where she’s working her way through all of the animal-themed games at our local board games cafe.

Escape Rooms

I love a good escape room, and I can’t wait until the kids are old enough for (more of) them too so I’ve an excuse to do more of them. When we’re not playing conventional escape rooms, Ruth and I can sometimes be found playing board game-style boxed “kit” ones (which have very variable quality, in my experience) and we’ve recently tried a little Escape Academy.

Ruth and Dan hold up an Alice In Wonderland themed sign reading "it went like a dream" underneath the sign for escape room company Escape Hunt. Both are wearing silly hats, and Dan is also wearing white rabbit ears.
Ruth and I make a great duo when we remember to communicate early-and-often and to tag-team puzzles by swapping what we’re focussing on when we get stuck.

GNSS Activities

I’m sure everybody knows I do a modest amount of geocaching and geohashing.4

Dan, outdoors in a field on a grey day and with the wind whipping his hair across his face, wearing a high-vis jacket over a warm fleece, holds up a GPS receiver which shows he's zero metres from his destination.
I’m out standing in my field.

They’re not the only satnav-based activities I do at least partially “for fun” though! I contribute to OpenStreetMap, often through the “gamified” experience of the StreetComplete app, and I’m very slowly creeping up the leader board at OpenBenches. Are these “play”? Sure, maybe.

And all of the above is merely the structured kinds of play I engage in. Playing “let’s pretend”-style games with the kids (even when they make it really, really weird) adds a whole extra aspect. Also there’s the increasingly-rare murder mystery parties we sometimes hold: does that count as roleplaying, or some other kind of play?

Guests dressed as a chef, a priest, and a librarian sit around a dining table at a murder mystery party.
A chef, a priest, and a librarian walk into a party… stop me if you’ve heard this one.

Suffice to say, there’s plenty of play in my life, it’s quite varied and diverse, and there is, if anything, not enough of it!

Footnotes

1 I say that, and yet somehow Steam tells me that one of my most-played games this year was Starfield, which was… meh? Apparently compelling enough that I’ve “ascended” twice, but in hindsight I wish I hadn’t bothered.

2 Someday my group and I will finish Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 so we can get started on Season 0 which has sat unplayed on my shelves since I got it… oooh… two or three years ago‽

3 This Christmas, I got each of them their first “legacy” game: Zombie Kids for the younger one, My City for the elder. They both seem pretty good.

4 Geocaching is where you use military satellite networks to find lost tupperware. Geohashing uses the same technology but what you find is a whole lot of nothing. I don’t think I can explain why I find the latter more-compelling.

Composite photo showing a young boy rolling a D20 onto a character sheet in front of a tabletop battlemap, and three monitors in a dark room showing a video chat between people and a digital gameboard.× Dan with his thumbs-up in front of the high-score table (with the top-ranking spot about to be filled) of Wonder Boy, on a generic "80s Arcade Classics" arcade cabinet.× A girl, sat in front of an Agricola farmyard board, holds up a "sheeple" (small wooden sheep game piece) for the camera.× Ruth and Dan hold up an Alice In Wonderland themed sign reading "it went like a dream" underneath the sign for escape room company Escape Hunt. Both are wearing silly hats, and Dan is also wearing white rabbit ears.× Dan, outdoors in a field on a grey day and with the wind whipping his hair across his face, wearing a high-vis jacket over a warm fleece, holds up a GPS receiver which shows he's zero metres from his destination.× Guests dressed as a chef, a priest, and a librarian sit around a dining table at a murder mystery party.×

Not the Isle of Man

This week, Ruth and I didn’t go the Isle of Man.

A laptop screen shows Automattic's "Work With Us" web page. Beyond it, in an airport departure lounge (with diners of Wagamama and The Breakfast Club in the background), Dan sits at another laptop, wearing a black "Accessibility Woke Platoon" t-shirt and grey Tumblr hoodie.
We’d intended to actually go to the Isle of Man, even turning up at Gatwick Airport six hours before our flight and working at Pret in order to optimally fit around our workdays.

It’s (approximately) our 0x10th anniversary1, and, struggling to find a mutually-convenient window in our complex work schedules, we’d opted to spend a few days exploring the Isle of Man. Everything was fine, until we were aboard the ‘plane.

Ruth, wearing a green top with white stripes, sits alongside Dan, wearing a black t-shirt and grey hoodie, by the wingside emergency exits in an aeroplane.
As the last few passengers were boarding, putting their bags into overhead lockers, and finding their seats, Ruth observed that out on the tarmac, bags were being removed from the aircraft.

Once everybody was seated and ready to take off, the captain stood up at the front of the ‘plane and announced that it had been cancelled2.

The Isle of Man closes, he told us (we assume he just meant the airport) and while they’d be able to get us there before it did, there wouldn’t be sufficient air traffic control crew to allow them to get back (to, presumably, the cabin crews’ homes in London).

Two passengers - a man and a woman - disembark from an EasyJet plane via wheeled stairs.
To add insult to injury: even though the crew clearly knew that the ‘plane would be cancelled before everybody boarded, they waited until we were all aboard to tell us then made us wait for the airport buses to come back to take us back to the terminal.

Back at the terminal we made our way through border control (showing my passport despite having not left the airport, never mind the country) and tried to arrange a rebooking, only to be told that they could only manage to get us onto a flight that’d be leaving 48 hours later, most of the way through our mini-break, so instead we opted for a refund and gave up.3

Ruth and Dan, looking tired and frustrated, sit at a pub table. Ruth is using her tablet computer.
After dinner at the reliably-good Ye Old Six Bells in Horley, down the road from Gatwick Airport, we grumpily made our way back home.

We resolved to try to do the same kinds of things that we’d hoped to do on the Isle of Man, but closer to home: some sightseeing, some walks, some spending-time-together. You know the drill.

Panoramic photo showing a field containing the remains of a Roman villa in West Oxfordshire, under grey skies. The walls are barely visible in this wide shot.
There’s evidence on the Isle of Man of Roman occupation from about the 1st century BCE through the 5th century CE, so we found a local Roman villa and went for a look around.

A particular highlight of our trip to the North Leigh Roman Villa – one of those “on your doorstep so you never go” places – was when the audio tour advised us to beware of the snails when crossing what was once the villa’s central courtyard.

At first we thought this was an attempt at humour, but it turns out that the Romans brought with them to parts of Britain a variety of large edible snail – helix pomatia – which can still be found in concentration in parts of the country where they were widely farmed.4

Large cream-coloured snail in moderately-long grass, alongside a twenty-pence piece (for scale). The snail is around three times as long as the coin is.
Once you know you’re looking for them, these absolute unit gastropods are easy to spot.

There’s a nice little geocache near the ruin, too, which we were able to find on our way back.

Before you think that I didn’t get anything out of my pointless hours at the airport, though, it turns out I’d brought home a souvenier… a stinking cold! How about that for efficiency: I got all the airport-germs, but none of the actual air travel. By mid-afternoon on Tuesday I was feeling pretty rotten, and it only got worse from then on.

A box of tissues and a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller on the arm of a sofa.
I felt so awful on Wednesday that the most I was able to achieve was to lie on the sofa feeling sorry for myself, between sessions of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

I’m confident that Ruth didn’t mind too much that I spent Wednesday mostly curled up in a sad little ball, because it let her get on with applying to a couple of jobs she’s interested in. Because it turns out there was a third level of disaster to this week: in addition to our ‘plane being cancelled and me getting sick, this week saw Ruth made redundant as her employer sought to dig itself out of a financial hole. A hat trick of bad luck!

Dan, sitting in bed, holding a tissue and looking unwell.
Sniffle. Ugh.

As Ruth began to show symptoms (less-awful than mine, thankfully) of whatever plague had befallen me, we bundled up in bed and made not one but two abortive attempts at watching a film together:

  • Spin Me Round, which looked likely to be a simple comedy that wouldn’t require much effort by my mucus-filled brain, but turned out to be… I’ve no idea what it was supposed to be. It’s not funny. It’s not dramatic. The characters are, for the most part, profoundly uncompelling. There’s the beginnings of what looks like it was supposed to be a romantic angle but it mostly comes across as a creepy abuse of power. We watched about half and gave up.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, because we figured “how bad can a trashy MCU sequel be anyway; we know what to expect!” But we couldn’t connect to it at all. Characters behave in completely unrealistic ways and the whole thing feels like it was produced by somebody who wanted to be making one of the new Star Wars films, but with more CGI. We watched about half and gave up.

As Thursday drew on and the pain in my head and throat was replaced with an unrelenting cough, I decided I needed some fresh air.

Dan, looking slightly less-unwell, stands holding Demmy, a French Bulldog, in front of a hedge.
The dog needed a walk, too, which is always a viable excuse to get out and about.

So while Ruth collected the shopping, I found my way to the 2023-07-27 51 -1 geohashpoint. And came back wheezing and in need of a lie-down.

I find myself wondering if (despite three jabs and a previous infection) I’ve managed to contract covid again, but I haven’t found the inclination to take a test. What would I do differently if I do have it, now, anyway? I feel like we might be past that point in our lives.

All in all, probably the worst anniversary celebration we’ve ever had, and hopefully the worst we’ll ever have. But a fringe benefit of a willingness to change bases is that we can celebrate our 10th5 anniversary next year, too. Here’s to that.

Footnotes

1 Because we’re that kind of nerds, we count our anniversaries in base 16 (0x10 is 16), or – sometimes – in whatever base is mathematically-pleasing and gives us a nice round number. It could be our 20th anniversary, if you prefer octal.

2 I’ve been on some disastrous aeroplane journeys before, including one just earlier this year which was supposed to take me from Athens to Heathrow, got re-arranged to go to Gatwick, got delayed, ran low on fuel, then instead had to fly to Stansted, wait on the tarmac for a couple of hours, then return to Gatwick (from which I travelled – via Heathrow – home). But this attempt to get to the Isle of Man was somehow, perhaps, even worse.

3 Those who’ve noticed that we were flying EasyJet might rightly give a knowing nod at this point.

4 The warning to take care not to tread on them is sound legal advice: this particular variety of snail is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981!

5 Next year will be our 10th anniversary… in base 17. Eww, what the hell is base 17 for and why does it both offend and intrigue me so?

A laptop screen shows Automattic's "Work With Us" web page. Beyond it, in an airport departure lounge (with diners of Wagamama and The Breakfast Club in the background), Dan sits at another laptop, wearing a black "Accessibility Woke Platoon" t-shirt and grey Tumblr hoodie.× Ruth, wearing a green top with white stripes, sits alongside Dan, wearing a black t-shirt and grey hoodie, by the wingside emergency exits in an aeroplane.× Two passengers - a man and a woman - disembark from an EasyJet plane via wheeled stairs.× Ruth and Dan, looking tired and frustrated, sit at a pub table. Ruth is using her tablet computer.× Panoramic photo showing a field containing the remains of a Roman villa in West Oxfordshire, under grey skies. The walls are barely visible in this wide shot.× Large cream-coloured snail in moderately-long grass, alongside a twenty-pence piece (for scale). The snail is around three times as long as the coin is.× A box of tissues and a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller on the arm of a sofa.× Dan, sitting in bed, holding a tissue and looking unwell.× Dan, looking slightly less-unwell, stands holding Demmy, a French Bulldog, in front of a hedge.×

Geohashing expedition 2023-07-27 51 -1

This checkin to geohash 2023-07-27 51 -1 reflects a geohashing expedition. See more of Dan's hash logs.

Location

Northern boundary hedge of West Witney Primary School, Witney

Participants

Expedition

I wasn’t supposed to be here. I was supposed to be on the Isle of Man with my partner, celebrating our 0x10th anniversary. But this week’s been a week of disasters: my partner lost her job, our plane to the Isle of Man got cancelled, and then I got sick (most-likely, I got to catch airport germs from people I got to sit next to on an aircraft which was then cancelled before it had a chance to take off). So mostly this week I’ve been sat at home playing video games.

But the dog needed a walk, and my partner needed to go to the supermarket, so I had her drop me and the geopooch off in West Witney to find the hashpoint and then walk to meet them after she’d collected the shopping. I couldn’t find my GPSr, so I used my phone, and it was reporting low accuracy until I rebooted it, by which time I’d walked past the hashpoint and had to double-back, much to the doggo’s confusion.

I reached the hashpoint at 14:16 BST (and probably a few points before than, owing to my navigation failure). I needed to stand very close to the fence to get within the circle of uncertainty, but at least I didn’t have to reach through and into the school grounds.

Tracklog

My smartwatch kept a tracklog:

Map showing Dan's wanderings back and forth around West Witney Primary School before heading East-South-East across the town towards Waitrose.

Photos

Geohashing expedition 2023-03-10 51 -1

This checkin to geohash 2023-03-10 51 -1 reflects a geohashing expedition. See more of Dan's hash logs.

Location

North Leigh Common, West Oxfordshire.

Participants

Plans

My evening just freed up, so – weather-permitting – I might brave the sleet and cold and cycle out to this hashpoint this evening.

Expedition

Our dog had surgery at the start of the week and has now recovered enough to want a short walk, so I changed my plan to cycle for one to drive (with the dog) out to somewhere near the hashpoint and take her for a walk to and around it. Amazingly, I might have been faster to cycle: a crash on the A40 had lead to lots of traffic being re-routed along the exact same back roads that was to be my most-direct route, and on the local rat run through South Leigh I got trapped behind a line of folks who weren’t familiar with this particular unlit and twisty road and took the entire derestricted section at an average of 25mph. Ah well.

Out of laziness, I didn’t bring my GPSr or make a tracklog; I just used the Geohashdroid app and took a screenshot when I got there. South Leigh Common is pleasant, but it was dark, and my photos are all a little bit hard to make out! But the stars were beautiful tonight, and the dog loved one of her first outings since her surgery and enjoying running around in the long wet grass and sticking her head into rabbit holes. At 19:00 precisely I got within about a metre and a half of the hashpoint – well within the circle of uncertainty – and turned to head home.

I also took the time while there to update OpenStreetMap by drawing in the boundaries of the common, replacing the nondescript “point” that had marked it before.

Photos

Geohashing expedition 2023-01-02 51 -1

This checkin to geohash 2023-01-02 51 -1 reflects a geohashing expedition. See more of Dan's hash logs.

Location

Muswell Hill, Piddington, Oxfordshire

Participants

Expedition

I bundled the dog into the car and drove out to Piddington, a couple of kilometres North of the hashpoint. Cherwell Council advertise a circular walk that seems to circle from the village (which looked like a good place to park) up to Muswell Hill, the summit of which is near the hashpoint.

She and I walked through Piddington, past the church, and up onto the path. A soggy kilometre or so later we quickly discovered that this was going to be more-challenging than I’d anticipated. We quickly got bogged down in a flooded field and needed to double-back. With my socks already soaking wet and the dog in a similar condition, we found a different route that looped around the entire hill and through an alpaca farm (or were they llamas?), then we worked our way up the South face of the hill, over the summit, and down to the hashpoint. We got there at 11:00 UTC, took a quick look around and pulled the closest thing a dog can manage to a silly grin, and then hacked our way back (by road) to Piddington for the drive home and some dry clothes.

Tracklog

Entire expedition

Walking part only

Photo

Dan - a man with a beard, wearing a grey fleece with a white poppy attached - crouches alongside his French Bulldog in a green field under a blue sky with a few wispy clouds.
Multi-species silly grin.

Video

Also available on YouTube.

Geohashing expedition 2022-12-05 51 -1

This checkin to geohash 2022-12-05 51 -1 reflects a geohashing expedition. See more of Dan's hash logs.

Location

Bridleway behind Cokethorpe School, West Oxfordshire, UK.

Participants

Expedition

When I saw this hashpoint appear I thought to myself: that’s eminently achievable! I hoped I might be able to slip away from work for a lunchtime cycle to claim it.

But the gods of technology didn’t approve of my plan and turned my workday into a catastrophe of the kind that only a computer can, and the chance of taking a long lunch evaporated quickly. But fortune dealt me a second hand when the weather held off into the evening, and I instead opted for a post-dinner huckle in the dark out to this hashpoint.

I set out around 18:30, South through Stanton Harcourt then North up the adorably-named Ducklington Road. It took some time to sight the somewhat-concealed bridleway around the hill of Cokethorpe School. And then, another challenge – navigating by OpenStreetMap I missed my turning and went straight through a farmyard, and had to carry my bike over a fence at the other end. Turns out the map is wrong and I later found a sign indicating the true course of the bridleway; I’ll get that corrected.

I abandoned my bike for the final 50 metres, trekking through the thick grass of an unmown meadow to the hashpoint and arriving around 19:00. No panoramic photo today it’s too dark – but you get a silly grin.

Pleased with this fast expedition, I diverted on my route home to the Harcourt Arms pub for a pint of their surprisingly-delicious seasonal guest ale, Fairytale of Brew York, which genuinely tastes like stollen. There, I wrote up this expedition report, but I’ll have to get home before I can extract my GPSr‘s tracklog.

Tracklog

Map showing a journey from Sutton, near Stanton Harcourt, along the B4449 then up the A415 past Cokethorpe School, then along a bridleway and into a field (where a chequered flag icon appears), then back to the centre of Stanton Harcourt (where a beer icon appears) before returning to the start point in Sutton.

Download tracklog

Photos

Geohashing expedition 2022-12-02 51 -1

This checkin to geohash 2022-12-02 51 -1 reflects a geohashing expedition. See more of Dan's hash logs.

Location

Just off the driveway to Appleton Cricket Club, South-West of Appleton.

Participants

Plans

I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it to this one, but if I can I’ll cycle over there on my lunch break or right after work.

Expedition

The dog was making an attention-seeking nuisance of herself while I was trying to work today, so I wrapped up all the critical things I needed to do so I could take her our for a walk this afternoon to try to wear her out. I’m moderately familiar with Appleton – I have a regular cycle circuit that comes right through it! – but I’ve never been out to the cricket club and sports field, so I pointed the hashing hound in the right direction and let her lead the way.

At first it looked like this was going to be a successful expedition: the needle on my GPSr pointed almost directly ahead as I walked up the lane towards Appleton Sports Field. But as I got closer, I realised to my disappointment that the hashpoint was going to be about 25 metres into the adjacant field, guarded by a trio of bullocks. At 15:00 I declared the expedition a failure. The doggo and I completed an exploration of the lane and had a look around the sports field, spotted a pair of muntjack deer ambling around, and then headed back home.

I’ll be back in Appleton later today to buy a Christmas tree, so I’ll wave at the cattle as I go past, again.

Tracklog

My GPSr kept a tracklog; note that this was an “on the way” stopoff so the start and end point isn’t the same!

Map showing a line heading into Appleton from the South-West, diverting up the lane towards the Sports Field, and then turning back and leaving by the same route. A cross marks the hashpoint, in a field just off to the side of the route.

Photos

Geohashing expedition 2022-10-24 51 -1

This checkin to geohash 2022-10-24 51 -1 reflects a geohashing expedition. See more of Dan's hash logs.

Location

Wharf Stream Way, Eynsham. I’ve visited this circular footpath many times to walk the dog or to take the children to swim in the river.

Participants

Plans

I hope to cycle/walk to the GZ about lunchtime? I’ve an opportunity to pass nearby the GZ between other errands this morning!

Expedition

I was excited to see this spot pop up on my radar, because it’s a lovely meadow that I’ve ocassionally walked my dog in, within comfortable cycling distance of my house. As it happened, I had an even easier route here because a drive this morning to drop the kids off at a half-term activity took me “close enough” to be worth stopping and walking from there.

I parked at The Talbot Inn, just West of the Swinford Toll Bridge (a bizzare old bridge that, for weird historical reasons, continues to use human operators to charge 5 pence per car to cross, which surely cannot be cost-effective!). From here, there’s a footpath along the back of the Seimens buildings in the nearby light industrial estate which eventually comes out into the Wharf Stream Way circular walk. It was pretty damp out here today and I quickly regretted my choice of light trousers which would have been fine to drive the kids to their camp and back but wasn’t really a good choice for stomping across the long grass of a damp meadow. Some way across I disturbed some grazing deer, but ultimatey it was following a deer-trodden trail that eventually provided the best route to the GZ.

I reached the GZ at 09:19, took a selfie, and then turned around to go and get to work. I also shot a video covering the whole expedition which is presented, unedited, below.

Tracklog

My GPSr kept a tracklog; note that this was an “on the way” stopoff so the start and end point isn’t the same!

Map showing a journey from Witney to Stanton Harcourt via Wharf Stream Way meadow, East of Eynsham.

Photos

Dan makes a silly grin while holding a GPS receiver in a damp grassy autumn meadow, on a grey and drizzly day.

Video

Map showing a journey from Witney to Stanton Harcourt via Wharf Stream Way meadow, East of Eynsham.× Dan makes a silly grin while holding a GPS receiver in a damp grassy autumn meadow, on a grey and drizzly day.×

Geohashing expedition 2022-02-20 52 -1

This checkin to geohash 2022-02-20 52 -1 reflects a geohashing expedition. See more of Dan's hash logs.

Location

Outside a warehouse full of sheet aluminium, Kitts Green Road, Birmingham.

Participants

Plans

I’m hoping to find the 2022-02-19 52 -2 hashpoint one day earlier and one graticule over, and I think I can stretch the range on the electric car enough to be able to return home via this hashpoint too.

Update: managed to change the car after finding the 2022-02-19 52 -2 point, so I can make this. Probably be there about midday, weather-permitting.

Expedition

Following my successful expedition to 2022-02-19 52 -2 (which completed level 6 of my minesweeper grid) I stayed overnight in a delightful converted hayloft near the hashpoint before pressing on the following morning to this hashpoint (via a whole series of delightful geocaches in and around the village of Blakedown).

I didn’t expect much of this hashpoint, but I wanted the excuse to recharge the car before going for another leg of my journey – either a trip up to visit a friend in Lichfield or else a hashing expedition one graticule further East where today’s hashpoint seemed to be in a graveyard! But more on that later.

I parked at the Morrisons car park at (52.757778, -1.752222) at 14:48 and hooked up to the charger there (once I eventually found it). I had some difficulty making it work, but it seemed to get started eventually. Then I began my walk to the hashpoint. This was far from the picturesque walk of yesterday, taking me through a series of housing estates that were nondescript at best, unpleasantly scuzzy at worst. Shooting video as I walked, I was at one point loudly mocked by a group of young men passing in an artificially-loud car, but it was an activity that soon had to end anyway as the rain began to pour down. At around 15:11 my GPSr ran out of battery power (I’d failed to find its charging cable the night before) and there’s a clear gap in my tracklog: fortunately I was also equipped with not one but two backup devices (my phone, of course, and my watch), so I was able to continue heading in the right direction, and when I found a convenience store near (52.739167, -1.998333) I bought some AA batteries (my GPSr can have its rechargeable battery removed and 3 × AA batteries put in its place to allow it to continue) and pressed on to the hashpoint.

As anticipated, the hashpoint was on a road dividing a light industrial park from a housing estate, right outside a plant specialising in bending plate aluminium; I reached it at 15:23:48. I walked back the same route as the rain began to fall more and more heavily: by the time I reached the car it had become torrential. The dubious charging point I’d used had taken £16 from my bank card but provided only enough charge to take the car from 66% to 67% battery, which – combined with the rapidly-worsening weather – made me rethink my plans to visit Lichfield or explore further East and I instead used my remaining distance to take a long (slow, wet, diversion-filled) drive home. Ugh.

Tracklog

My GPSr kept a tracklog of my entire two-day expedition:

Download tracklog.

Photos

I shot video of most of this expedition but don’t have time to edit it, so here are stills from the video instead:

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Geohashing expedition 2022-02-19 52 -2

This checkin to geohash 2022-02-19 52 -2 reflects a geohashing expedition. See more of Dan's hash logs.

Location

Just off footpath near Kinnersley, Herefordshire.

Participants

Plans

I’ve a rare opportunity today to expand my Minesweeper grid by reaching a hashpoint in 52 -2. Also, to engage in my established tradition of “getting outside and exploring” on 19 February (in memory of my father, the most “get outside and explore” person I ever knew, who died ten years ago today while, you guessed it, getting outside and exploring).

I’ve booked some accommodation nearby with a view to seeing some of the Wye valley while I’m here.

Expedition

It’s become traditional that I mark the anniversary of my father’s death with an outdoors adventure: he was a huge fan of getting outside and exploring the world (and, indeed, died during a training exercise for a planned expedition to the North Pole). Sometimes (e.g. 2014-02-19 51 -0, 2021-02-19 51 -1) this coincides with a geohashing expedition; today was one of those days.

I’d originally hoped to spend a long weekend on this, the tenth anniversary of his death, trying to clear two or three of my three unfinished corners of the minesweeper grid centred on my home graticule. This would have involved a possible quick day trip to this graticule followed by a camping expedition along the South coast to try to pick up the remaining two. However, it was clearly not to be: for a start, all of the weekend’s hashpoints on the South coast graticules turned out to be at sea! But even if that weren’t the case, I was hardly likely to go camping on the coast during the “red warning” of Storm Eunice! So I revised my plans and changed my expedition to find this hashpoint (still gaining one more part of my grid), then stay over in the graticule before possibly heading East for one or two more over the coming day(s).

I drove up to the village of Kinnersley and parked at (52.253611, -3.0975) in the car park of the Church of St James. From there, I walked up the footpath to the North, through three fields, until I reached the edge of the orchards near which I’d surveyed the hashpoint to be. The fields were incredibly muddy following the recent heavy rain. It soon became apparent that the hashpoint was on the near-side of the hedgerow and thankfully not in the orchard itself, so I walked along the edge of the hedge until I reached it at 15:45:07.

Returning to my car, I drove on to my accommodation, took a walk around the village, then pressed on in the morning to the 2022-02-20 52 -1 hashpoint!

Tracklog

My GPSr kept a tracklog of my entire two-day expedition:

Download tracklog.

Photos

I shot video of most of this expedition but don’t have time to edit it, so here are stills from the video instead:

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Geohashing expedition 2022-02-08 51 -1

This checkin to geohash 2022-02-08 51 -1 reflects a geohashing expedition. See more of Dan's hash logs.

Location

Edge of a field, Kingston Bagpuize.

(Bagpuize is pronounced /ˈbæɡpjuːz/, by the way: bag-pyooz.)

Participants

Plans

This looks eminently achievable: it’s about half an hour’s cycle from my house: in fact one of my favourite evening cycle routes normally takes me to the nearby junction of the A415 and Appleton Road before I go the other direction along it, up the hill to Appleton then on to Cumnor. I’ve never been this way down Appleton Road.

At a glance, it looks like the hashpoint is alongside the road, over a dyke. Street level photography makes it look like it’ll be possible to jump over, and the hashpoint is probably on the “public highway” side of the tree line rather than in the field itself.

The challenge will be timing. My Tuesdays are hectic as I juggle work in the mornings and evenings with childcare in the afternoons. If I can get far enough ahead of my work (e.g. starting early on Tuesday) I can probably justify the cycle as part of my lunch break. Alternatively, I could come down for a spot of night-hashing after the children are in bed. It’s hard to commit to which time is best, but as I’m likely to be the only hasher there I don’t think I need to refine my plans any more than that at this point!

Expedition

Made a quick run out here by car, as I was travelling nearby on an errand anyway. Had to be a flying visit because my partner needed the car after me!

Was able to pull into a layby within 60 metres of the hashpoint. It was at the edge of the field, just on the other side of the hedge, but a gap in the hedge allowed me to pop through for a quick selfie.

Tracklog

Tracklog showing Dan's journey from Stanton Harcourt to a field North of Kingston Bagpuize.

(only outbound leg shown, as after this I went elsewhere before circling back home)

Download tracklog.

Photos

Tracklog showing Dan's journey from Stanton Harcourt to a field North of Kingston Bagpuize.×

Geohashing expedition 2022-02-01 51 -1

This checkin to geohash 2022-02-01 51 -1 reflects a geohashing expedition. See more of Dan's hash logs.

Location

Aurora Solar Power Plant, Eynsham, Oxfordshire.

Hashpoint looks like it’s close to the banks of Chill Brook, in the grounds of Twelve Acre Farm. There’s been a lot of changes to the land around here recently owing to the ongoing construction of a new solar power plant on this land.

Based on planning documents I saw when visiting a presentation about the proposed construction at South Leigh Village Hall last year, I believe the hashpoint is probably outside the new security fence that’s proposed. I’ve marked the anticipated location of the hashpoint on the diagram below:

Site map of the Aurora Solar Farm with a red cross marking a presumed hashpoint just to the West of one of its panelled sections.

Participants

Plans

Work-permitting, I plan to cycle out to the trailhead at 51.7774, -1.41957, lock my bike to the “public footpath” sign, cross the footbridge to the East, and trek out to see if the hashpoint itself is accessible. Not sure when I’ll find time, though: it’s a busy week for both work and home life!

Expedition

I was really sceptical that I’d be able to make it to this hashpoint: with so much construction going on near the GZ and the fact that it seems pretty ambiguous whether the hashpoint would be inside or outside the fence. With no reliable maps yet existing of the area covered by this new power plant (the best I could find were planning documents, which did not have accurate grid references but instead used field boundaries as markers), I knew from the outset that it could go either way.

After dropping the kids at school I cycled past my house and on, through South Leigh and up to the start of the footpath that runs closest to the new construction. I locked up my bike and continued on foot, at least slightly awed by the scale of construction ahead of me: this new solar power plant feels pretty massive! Diverting along the edge of the new fence that’s been erected to mark the boundary of the Northernmost part of the site, I was delighted to discover that the hashpoint was very-definitely outside the site itself: fantastic! I reached the GZ at 09:20, then turned around to head back home to work.

I shot the whole expedition on video, which I’ve condensed to a 3 minute 19 second video you can watch below. Apologies for the wind noise.

Tracklog

Map showing a journey from Stanton Harcourt to South Leigh, on to a field, then back to Sutton

Download tracklog.

Video

Also available on YouTube (in 4K).

Photos

Site map of the Aurora Solar Farm with a red cross marking a presumed hashpoint just to the West of one of its panelled sections.× Map showing a journey from Stanton Harcourt to South Leigh, on to a field, then back to Sutton×

Geohashing expedition 2021-12-22 51 -2

This checkin to geohash 2021-12-22 51 -2 reflects a geohashing expedition. See more of Dan's hash logs.

Location

East side of Syde; side of a Syde Farm field.

Participants

Plans

I’m going to be going half way here anyway on an errand. Might as well enjoy a morning hike and expand my Minesweeper grid, if I can.

Expedition

Given that I was driving half way from home to this hashpoint to run an errand anyway, I figured I might as well push the battery on the EV a little further. Coming over the graticule line would, if successful, expand my Minesweeper score, and as it’s such a beautiful frosty morning it seemed like great conditions for a bit of an explore.

I’d hoped to drive most of the way to the hashpoint and only walk a short distance, but I soon discovered that the nearest road is signposted as being for access to Syde Farm only (and is narrow enough that passing a vehicle coming the other way would be extremely awkward), so I parked up near geocache GC1WXE1 and hiked along a frozen bridleway to get closer to the hashpoint.

Reached the hashpoint around 10:15, turned around, and headed back, nabbing the geocache on the way. By the time I reached the car my hands were freezing and it was only as I returned my GPSr to my coat pocket that I remembered that I’d been carrying my gloves all along.

Tracklog

Entire journey

Map showing route from Bourton-on-the-Water to Stanton Harcourt via the 2021-12-22 51 -2 hashpoint.
Download.

Walking part (after I remembered to start tracking it)

Map showing walking route around the 2021-12-22 51 -2 hashpoint.
Download.

Photos