So Wednesday night, some bozo delivering furniture nearby accidentally reversed into my stationary car.🤬🤬🤬🤬
However, the good news was that an off-duty policewoman was walking her dog past my car at that moment and “collared” the driver.😀 Add to that, another neighbour captured the incident on CCTV.😀😀
Anyway my insurance company was “top notch” about it and I had a courtesy car delivered whilst my car was taken to the repair shop, the next day.
I’m reluctant to drive the courtesy car too far so I may not get out caching for a few days.🥴
I decided to drive the twenty minutes up to Writtle to tackle two AdLab series. One was A Stroll Around Writtle and the other was in Hylands Park - Hylands House and Estate. I knew that I could park up near the ground of Writtle F.C. and then walk into the park via the underpass of the A414, the Ongar Road.
I parked up in the free car park opposite the picturesque Writtle Green and set off on my walk. I started at the head of the car park at the council offices and quickly found the info for the first task. Next up was the church and after scrutinising the stone work had the right answer.
I had a long walk up to the Writtle Agricultural College, dearly wishing that the Wilkin & Son Tea Rooms on the campus was open. ☹️ I came unstuck at the next stage but luckily got a further hint after texting the COs, The Avenue Two or TA2 on logbooks. These two got me into geocaching but more of that later.🤔
I passed this stage but then had a detour through the Ag College out to the quickly found Heifer trad. Back on the series, I was sent through the former orchards of the college and out to the site of the former Writtle Airfield.
This was occasionally used by Royal Flying Corps aircraft as a landing ground during fighter patrols in the first half of World War One. Aircraft activity did not completely end following its closure as the Marconi Company kept the airfield active in a minor capacity to operate single examples of an Airco DH6 and then Avro 548 as pioneering flying radio test beds until the firm left in 1924. Now I understand why there’s a mystery cache nearby called Destinations : Air To Ground.
The last stage (no pun intended) was at Melba Court, named after Dame Nellie Melba, perhaps the most popular opera singer of her day. On 15 June 1920, Nellie was heard in a pioneering radio broadcast from Marconi’s New Street Works factory in Chelmsford singing two arias and her famous trill. She was the first artist of international renown to participate in direct radio broadcasts. Radio enthusiasts across the country heard her, and the broadcast was reportedly heard from as far away as New York.
However, near the information board in Melba Court, in an old ex-Army hut next to the Marconi laboratories, is the site of the first British radio station to make regular entertainment broadcasts, and the world's first regular wireless broadcast for entertainment. Transmissions began from here on 14 February 1922.
So that was the end of this fascinating walk but I had another cache to find before setting off to Hylands Park. I had mentioned GC5CBVN, the 4/2 Destinations : Air to Ground mystery earlier. I had solved the puzzle some time and as I was nearby, I had to give it a try. My, was that track out to the search area wet! It was so muddy, slippy and slidy. However I put my hand straight on the cache, eventually.🤔 There was an added bonus as I had resuscitated this one👏👏
I made it back to the car and set off to Writtle FC. I then walked down into the park to trek out the AdLabs series. I had been on many trips to this splendid park so none of the stages were new to me. I successfully found all the answers to complete the series. I had a result on the way to the final stage when the Hall coffee shop opened as I was walking past on the stroke of ten. No food but a very welcome takeaway Americano.😀
You may remember my promise to ignore any cache without at least a 2 in the D/T. However as caches will be thin on the ground during this Lock-down period, that promise is on hold. There was a regular trad Middle of the Park on the estate and I waded out there over the waterlogged field to get this one.
Now it’s time to mention the reunion.🤔 Before I got into Geocaching, I was a very keen birdwatcher and on occasions, a twitcher. For example, five unsuccessful seventy mile round trips up to Fingringhoe looking for a Glossy Ibis and when I did find one, it was three miles away on Vange Marsh.🥴
On day trips out with Swallow Birding, a local birding tour operator, I used to pick up a young birder who couldn’t drive, in Springfield on route. Some days, he was dropped by both parents and Andrew said that his parents were making an early start to go Geocaching. Always curious, I asked what it was. It sounded interesting and I said I would give it a go when I had a smart phone.
That day coincided with a birding trip to Rutland Water with Swallow Birding. During lunch after watching the Ospreys, I walked down to the local church and found a film pot hidden in a log. I was hooked and it was fitting that my first cache was a CM in a rare county. Birdwatching soon became something I used to do regularly.
Now Andrew is part of the management team at the Writtle Co-op and I needed some shopping. I spotted him with his head in a freezer, asking his back where the eggs were. He didn’t recognise me under my mask but as soon as I pulled it down (at a safe distance, of course) we were away.
He said that I’d sort of dropped off the birding scene and I told him that it was all his fault. He’d told me about about Geocaching and once I tried it, I was hooked, birding came a very distant second among my hobbies. I told him that I had completed his parents AdLab series that morning. Unfortunately he was called to the phone and the brief reunion was over.
It was time for home but I had one more cache to find on the way home. Polyglot 1 (BNB-19) one of cazmockett’s Brains Not Brawn series, a 2/1.5 mystery, had been solved a couple of years but as I was driving past it was time to find it. I had a quick find of a well hidden cache.😀
2 Mystery 2 Traditional 10 AdLab
I have to take my car in for it’s MOT test this morning on the Basildon Industrial Estate and I will have an hour to kill. There was a trad Twins 1474 - No#1 about a mile away on the way into Wickford so I should be able to trek out there and back in time.
I walked almost into Wickford and turned down Borwick Lane which I had passed hundreds of time but never ventured down. However I had passed a new dwelling called Wexford Cottage which stirred a memory but more of that later.
I walked a long way down the track catching up with previous logs. The cache had just been replaced after being washed away so it was near a steam or a brook. I had to get out of the road as an Environmental Agency van was coming the other way. Were the water levels up again and was this a wasted journey?
I got to the search area and had a quick find of the cache. With three strong magnets on it, it wasn’t going anywhere soon.😀 I retraced my way back to the main road and was back at the garage to find that my car had passed its test.😀 I had walked just short of three miles.
Now before the cottage had been built there was a cafe there run by Mrs Jewry, who had a son called Bernard. He was a decent singer and changed his name to Shane Fenton, having moderate success. However, as glam rock came in, he changed his name to Alvin Stardust and he became an international star. The only things that had changed were the names.
Now who’s ever heard of the singer Gerry Dorsey from Leicester? Again, moderate success but as Engelbert Humperdinck, he became one of the finest middle of the road” singers in the world.
Another early morning‘s Geocaching trying to stay incognito. 😎 I walked into the woods about 10 minutes before dawn. It was very cold but at least it was dry. It was still very muddy though but I go on with it. It was a pleasant walk for just under the hour gathering the answers to Mathsnut’s questions. I guessed that the butterfly answer would be its foodstuff. I have spent a lot of time in the past observing these lovely creatures. There is another lovely creature in these woods but I had never seen one only photos.
There was a bonus to this Hadleigh Great Wood AdLab series and once I had worked out the coords, I made a bee-line to the search area. There were a couple of decent hint items but I just couldn’t spot the cache anywhere. I sent Mathsnut a plea for help and set off for grobo’s The Belfairs Letterbox cache. This was based on three projections and I worked out an approximate search area before I left home.
I walked towards the search area but, as an insurance, paced out the necessary distance from one of the projection points. I knew that I was in the right area and started to look for the ”obstacle” mentioned in many of the previous logs. I turned round and spotted it. Oh gawd, how am I going to tackle this? I had to take a leap of faith which luckily paid off first time but I knew that I was going to have to do a repeat performance.🥴
I wandered up and down the tree line before I spotted the clever cache. After carrying out the necessary clerical duties, I had to overcome the “obstacle” again. This time, I found a slightly better route and was mightily relieved to emerge unscathed.
Luckily I had received a text from Mathsnut with a little more info re the bonus. I had been taking the hint a bit too literally and I soon had the cache in hand. I had probably been knocking my head against it in my previous search.🤔
1 Letterbox 1 Mystery 5 AdLab
I needed a walk where I wouldn’t see anybody at all and Tollesbury sprang to mind. There was an isolated RST right out on the seawall at the former pier, which was destroyed in 1940 as an anti-invasion precaution. I have wanted to visit this for absolute ages and there was no danger of bumping into anyone.
However, there was also a multi and an AdLab series here. 🤔 I had visited this sleepy town many times before, usually visiting the Tollesbury Wick nature reserve and never seen more than a handful of people so I was reasonably sure that it was safe out here.
I parked up in the centre of the village and quickly gathered the info for the Tollesbury Village Lock-Up multi. I would normally have gone over to the Kings Head pub. They had an etched glass window showing Russell’s Gravesend Brewery there which some cretin had damaged. Russell’s were bought out by Truman’s in 1930. The landlord told me that the window would cost £1000 to replace. I wanted to check out what had been done but I gave it a swerve on this occasion.
I drove down to where I would normally park up to walk out to The Wick and set out on the AdLab series. Stage 1 was quickly sorted and then I walked out to the Lightship. I had only seen this from a distance before but it’s very impressive close up. By the way, the light was on! I retraced my steps back to the Sail Lofts and carried on to the pool. The last stage was out on the Wick and is was very muddy so I had to take great care.
I have been to Tollesbury many times and I’d dearly like to know where the Stone & Sons Brewery was. They were bought out in 1950 by Tolly Cobbold. A Tollesbury lad emigrated to New Zealand around this time and for some reason took a few Stones beer labels with him. 🤔 These re-surfaced in the U.K. about 20 years ago and I was lucky to get one of each. Mind you, they cost me an arm and a leg (swapping wise, that is).
I was able to find the well placed Lock-Up multi and then drove down as close as I could to get to RST - Tollesbury Pier trad. This would still leave me a 3 mile round trip and I never saw a soul. It was eerie out at the sea wall. You couldn’t imagine a railway station out here but it was, placed for the sole purpose to get the fish and shellfish from the Blackwater estuary to market in London as quickly as possible.
The station was at the end of the Kelvedon to Tollesbury Light Railway, affectionately known as “The Crab and Winkle Line.” It opened in 1907 but the expected traffic didn’t meet required amounts so it closed in 1921.
I realised that the impressive looking ship out in the estuary was the Mi Amigo, the former Radio Caroline pirate radio ship. Oh happy days, listening to that when it was moored just outside territorial waters in the 60’s. I spent the time walking back to the car reminiscing about those days.😀
1 Multi 1 Traditional 5 AdLab