It goes without saying that in just a few short months, our lives will completely change. We’ll be waving goodbye to our Sunday morning lie-ins and whimsical spur-of-the-moment outings and instead welcoming schedules, pre-planning and preparation (for everything). Whilst I’m looking forward to the new challenge, there are obviously certain aspects of our old lives that I’d like to hold on to. I don’t want to give up everything like makes us, well, us.
Thankfully, or perhaps regretfully, we’re not the most adventurous of hobbyists so many of our favourite pastimes lend themselves quite nicely to family life (like watching reruns of The West Wing, sofa-snuggling and walking) so I don’t think we’ll have to compromise that much. That said, one hobby that I’m very much looking forward to sharing with Pickle though is Geocaching.
If you’ve never heard of it before, prepare to be amazed. All over the world, people have been hiding all manner of boxes, capsules and Tupperware boxes and logging the GPS co-ordinates for others to find. You will have walked past hundreds without knowing it. They’ll be tucked under ledges, wedged under tree roots, magnetised to the back of street signs and you won’t have even noticed. There’s probably one at your local train station and your local church. They’re scattered across the countryside as well as in city and town centres all over the UK and abroad.
But what do these containers hold? I hear you wonder. The only requirement is that there’s a bit of paper in there, for finders to sign and date. Sometimes, if a geocache is big enough, there’ll be some other goodies in there – little trinkets that finders can swap or room enough to leave a signature item behind (there’s a geocacher near us with ‘spider’ in their username, and every cache they find, they leave behind a little black plastic spider. It’s frightened the life out of me on more than one occasion!). The fun is in the finding – they’re often very sneaky and although you can be in the right place GPS co-ordinate wise, that doesn’t mean it’ll be obvious. My FAVOURITE find was an especially modified bird box, which had a secret compartment that popped open when you pulled out the bird perch. It was brilliant!
Do you win anything? I get asked this a lot. There’s no prize money, it’s not a competition – it’s just for the fun and enjoyment of a) being outside and b) exploring new places. By hunting for a geocache we’ve found ourselves on some glorious walks to places we’d have never found otherwise. There’s also something very spy-like about it which appeals to my 24-Jack-Bauer loving side. If you’re a numbers person, you can quickly get caught up in trying to reach milestone find numbers. I only have around 150 finds, but some Geocachers have tens of thousands of finds in many different countries.
How do you do it? The wonderful thing is that Geocaching is absolutely free. Sign up for an account at Geocaching.Com (there is an option for premium membership but it’s really not essential) and check out what’s about in your area. If you’ve got a GPS device, then brilliant – you’re already half way to being a pro, but if not – don’t worry as pretty much all smartphones have GPS capabilities these days and again, you can download apps to help you find geocaches for free. Remember to take a pen with you so you can write your name on the logbook.
I’m already looking forward to getting myself a nice baby carrier, strapping on Pickle and going out for some Geocaching adventures. Hopefully, our love of outdoor adventuring will continue as Pickle grows and maybe they’ll find some of their own! It’s a great activity to do with little ones and really helps to foster a love of the outdoors. I fully recommend it, and do let me know if you try it out! Would love to hear about how you get on.