Derbyshire · Home Education · Motherhood · Parenting · Peak District

A First Attempt at Geocaching

After having had a few quiet days enjoying the snow at home, we decided it was time to get our boots on and venture a bit further afield. The snowman is a lumpy pile of snow, a carrot lying forlornly beside it amidst a couple of grapes we’d used as eyes.

We’ve been meaning to attempt geocaching for a while now – read: years, but I’ve never actually got around to trying it. I downloaded the app a long time ago and our nearest cache is apparently 100 yards down the road. It also tells us we need tweezers to find it, so with three impatient boys, I felt we’d give that one a miss as a starting point.

So in a bid to start ticking things off my to-do list and burning off the boys’ endless reserves of energy, I decided we would head to a local park to us and give it a go.

The geocaching app was showing 5 caches on the map, despite all the descriptions saying there was a trail of 9. A few of them had people posting that the caches were missing with recent dates on, so we started with one that looked like it might be positive.

The boys followed the map on my phone until it pinged up that we were very close. It gave us a clue of ‘stumpy or not’ and so we trailed over to an enormous tree trunk.

Only to find nothing. The boys searched high and low, but we found nothing.

We moved on to the next, and the next. Two were 100% not there, and one other was telling us it was in a tree but the co-ordinates took us to a bare patch of grass so we looked in all the nearby trees, to no avail.

(We did find a lot of beautiful fungi though!)

The final one had several logs underneath it on the app saying it definitely wasn’t there, so we didn’t investigate the last one. The park trail clearly needs more maintenance.

Looping back around the park and crossing the bridge, we ended up close to the first tree stump we investigated. Thinking we’d give it one last shot, we headed over, before realising we’d missed another stump nearby.

The boys bound over and find a little plastic tub nestled in a tiny stump underneath a few branches piled on top. The contents were damp and covered with mildew, but we managed to swap a painted stone for a plastic dinosaur before signing the logbook.

Despite most of them appearing to be missing (although the app history does say they’ve been replaced numerous times, so obviously a frequent issue), the boys really enjoyed geocaching and are begging to go again on Wednesday as forest school is cancelled. We’re aiming to go somewhere a little more off the beaten track in the hope that it’s less likely people will have removed them.

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is essentially a world-wide treasure hunt, achieved by entering location co-ordinates into a GPS system. Most people will download the app onto their phone as a good starting point.

The best geocaching site to get started with is geocaching.com and the website allows you to register for free. You can then type in your town, city or postcode which will allow you to see the geocaches local to you.

Each cache has details written about it – some of them a little cryptic, and I find myself wishing I’d paid more attention to my mother doing cryptic crosswords when I was a little girl. I didn’t get it then, and I don’t get it now.

Typing in our own postcode brought up several places we could easily park up and go for a wander, without having to walk miles in the freezing temperatures. A local park brought up a local trail of 9 caches, although it did warn that they were having problems with people stealing the caches. Feeling it was a good place to start and warning the boys in advance not to be too disappointed if we didn’t find anything, we donned hats and gloves, grabbed a flask of hot chocolate and set off in search of a needle in a haystack.

Types of Cache

Traditional Cache

There are different types of cache, varying in size and shape. Perhaps the best place to start is with a traditional cache, which is generally a plastic tub. The tub will generally contain a logbook and pencil, and sometimes will include swappable items and/or trackables.

Micro Cache:

A micro cache can generally be found in a camera film pot and are not big enough to hold any swappables or trackables.

Nano Cache:

A nano cache is like a nano SIM card – tiny! Many clues on these caches say, ‘make sure you bring a pair of tweezers!’

Multi Cache:

A multi cache is a trail which, once you have found the first one, will give you co-ordinates for the next one.

Swappables 

Swappables are generally small items that people leave in a traditional cache. More often than not they’re small trinkets to engage the children – small plastic dinosaurs, pretty shells, painted stones.

Trackables:

Geocaching.com describes trackables as ‘a trackable tag that you attach to an item. This allows you to track your item on Geocaching.com. The item becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online.’

Derbyshire · Motherhood · Parenting

Friday

My middle boy says to me, ‘when I’m a grown up I will buy you lots of earrings. And elephant statues. And bees – you like bees and I will buy you lots of them, too.’

My heart melts and I remind myself that this sweet, sweet boy is mine to cherish. 6 years old and he knows all my favourite things and wants to promise me the world. 

We head to the park for some fresh air. I’m melancholy, tears not far from my eyes today, and I needed the icy cold to wash over me. I take photos of the park. The day is cold, grey, wintry, but the leaves floating in the lake are riotous and full of colour.

The contrast is startling. 

Coffee in hand, I watch a blackbird dance in the grass behind where the boys are playing. He throws clumps of freshly cut grass clippings into the air, scouting for food. He flaps gently, bouncing to the left, then back to the right. I’m mesmerised by this playful bird, dancing in front of me. 

My thoughts are bottomless and I can’t seem to complete one train before another comes crashing down. The fresh air helps, giving me peace and solitude as the boys entertain themselves. 

I talk to a man and his daughter that we met last week, recognising each other and making small talk. It felt good to laugh. 

He cycles home, his daughter secure in her bike seat. The boys and I walk around the lake. We come home and chop swede, parsnips, carrots, onions. We mash potatoes. Feed the hens. Do reading. Mop the floor. 

The day feels as if it has been composed of snippets, none of them seemingly connected, but in reality, flowing gently from one to another. I feel disjointed. 

Disconnected. 

But then my middle boy sits there telling me he will buy me my favourite things and how he will help me clean my house even when he no longer lives with me, and I’m brought back to reality – this sweet and wonderful reality right in front of me. 

I’m just tired today. 

Derbyshire · Motherhood · Peak District

Foremark Reservoir, Foremark

Happiness is a child-friendly walk in autumn. It was wet today, soggy and grey, but still autumn is beautiful. 

We headed to a local reservoir, which was blissfully deserted. The car park held one other car and we never bumped into them on our travels. 

The boys wanted to go for a wander so we chose one of the circular walks, which for some reason was incredibly exciting for small boys – hunting for fence posts with coloured arrows on showing the way. It made a nice change for a walk to be well signposted. 

The boys collect leaves in every colour and snap off dead plant stems – some of them are hollow and they use them as pretend telescopes to look out over the water. I make a mental note to learn the names of these plants as the boys stuff their pockets with prickly sweet chestnuts. 

Looping back around towards the car park, we slip down to the ‘beach’, a tiny patch of sand that still delights the boys. They collect sticks, throwing them into the water and watching the waves bring them back. I sit watching them write their names in the wet sand, squealing as the water washes over their work.

Finishing our walk, the boys ask to go to the play area. We spend the rest of the afternoon here, until the heavens open and the rain descends. It’s a beautiful play area, moreso when we get the place to ourselves. 

The wind is ferocious and I make myself a promise not to leave the house without a coat and scarf from here on until next year. My hair is windswept and I bring a new meaning to the word dishevelled. 

The day never brightens up, but the boys don’t mind. I promise them that next time we can take their bikes and attempt the longer circular walk. In the meantime, they’ve filled the car with sticks and feathers; which at the very least will add to our collection of wood for our bonfire party in a couple of weeks. 

Derbyshire · Home Education

Day in the Life: Home Ed.

It’s 19.24 and I’m nestled into the sofa. The patio doors are open and it’s dark outside already. I love these darker evenings. I sit with the cool air caressing me from the open door, and the warmth from the radiator behind me slipping over my shoulders. 

It’s wasteful, and it drives my husband nutty, but it’s a feeling I love – doors wide open and the heating on. Best of both worlds.

But back to home education, which is what this post is meant to be about…

Does rock collecting count? Not the usual fossil hunting in disused quarries sprawled across the White Peak, but the painted, lacquered variety hidden by small children in a bid to bring joy to people’s lives. That kind. We love it. 

Um… Reading Eggs. The boys are still meticulously working their way through the levels. I frequently come down in the morning to find a trail of cereal leading from the kitchen to the table to the computer desk; where the boys chivvy each other along, three sets of knobbly elbows jostling for space and their owners sounding out unfamiliar words. 

The boys help me to cook, which is always a blessing. It’s rare that I have to make lunch these days. I’ve been promoted from dinnerlady to lunch supervisor and it’s blissful. All I have to do is supervise the liberal spreading of peanut butter and the precarious slicing of kiwis and we’re good to go. My youngest helps me to peel vegetables for dinner and if nothing else, these boys of mine will be able to cook by the time they leave home. 

We begin working our way through the latest issue of Whizz, Pop, Bang magazine, learning all about seeds. My middle boy writes a list of everything we need for the experiments, and in turn, I make vague promises about when I’ll actually get around to picking the items up at the shop. 

I’m promising myself we’ll crack on once October is over, reminding myself that the reason we worked so diligently over the summer holidays was so that we could relax over September and October. 

And in other news, forest school is restarting next week, which is our Wednesday’s fully booked for the foreseeable future. We’ll be by the bonfire, roasting marshmallows, identifying creatures with more legs than I feel it’s necessary to have, and you know, other educational things. Honest.