31 May 2013

The Ecologists’ Life

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Rachel Bates of Ecology Escapades

Quite often, people ask what I do, and then look at me blankly when I tell them that I am an ecologist. It never ceases to amaze me that there can be so much in the news about protected species, so many developments that have required bat surveys, or newt surveys, and the majority of people still don’t know who we are or what we do. It can be a little bit awkward (sometimes amusing) trying to describe my job, as there is so much that it entails.

Ecologists, put simply, work to enforce the various laws regarding the environment and protected species. We carry out protected species surveys to inform development proposals and planning applications (for example bats, great crested newts, reptiles, dormouse, otter, red squirrel, and many others); we assist with surveys for conservation projects and writing habitat management reports; we provide advice to organisations, businesses and individual homeowners about managing land, gardens and the countryside to benefit wildlife; we carry out habitat and plant surveys and assess a site’s potential to support protected and notable species – the list is endless and full of variety.

With this in mind, in my mind even, images spring up of surveyors walking through meadows on a warm sunny day, with the birds singing and a gentle breeze, recording plant species present – perhaps sitting under a shady tree by a stream with a packed lunch, looking through a wildflower book trying to identify some plants you are unsure of; standing near old, old trees near dusk, watching the sun go down on a balmy summer evening as you wait for the appearance of bats. Or, perhaps, the image is of scrambling through ancient woodland to set up dormouse tubes, excited by the thought that over the coming months you may find something, distracted by the pretty spring flowers and the warmth, the deer that you catch a glimpse of through the trees, and the birdsong all around you.


Sometimes, this is indeed the case. We ecologists can be very lucky in our job; a site that supports so much wildlife, a beautiful day, trips to different parts of the country. But it would be unfair of me not to mention the other side.

The other side can make or break a person. It can alter career paths and change destinies. I am talking, of course, about the weather. There is so much more that is part of ecology – the people you meet, the places you visit, the things you learn – but weather plays a prominent role, for field surveyors in particular. Ecologists are quite lucky in that a number of surveys cannot be done at certain times of the year, or in the rain or cold weather. Either animals are simply being sensible and hiding somewhere warm and dry or the rain makes it very difficult to see field signs – evidence of presence, such as droppings, food remains, hair – so in these instances, we have reports to write, reading to catch up on, all from the comforts of indoors.

However, on the occasions where you are required to wrap up warmly, clad in waterproofs and with a spare set of clothes in the car..... this, this is the test. For example, last year was an awful year weather-wise. It rained almost constantly. As part of the work in my old job, we had to set up numerous dormouse surveys, 50 dormouse tubes per site, and then check each site once a month. I don’t think either my colleague or I were properly dry for three months straight. Our waterproofs gradually got more sodden, less able to resist all this water; water trickled down our sleeves, rips in waterproof trousers created damp patches on our knees. Mentality has much to do with coping with this, I think. When I was happy and relaxed, I liked the sound of the rain, the feeling of being wrapped up warm and dry (okay, warm at least) while the rest of the world was sodden. When I was tired and cranky from being wet and scratched to bits from all the brambles, I hated it. (Brambles are an ecologists worst enemy, well, barbed wire fences too).

Earlier this year, just before I left my job, we had more sites to set up for dormouse surveys. This time, thankfully, there was no rain. Instead, it was freezing cold, well into the minus, and we were out in blizzards with bitterly cold, strong winds. In one particular woodland, the wind had created beautiful snow drifts which we had to wade through. Unfortunately they were waist high, and wading through them was incredibly hard work. During that week, my feet were constant lumps of ice, my fingers swelled with chilblains and my face became all dry and chapped from the wind, a bit like when I had to stand still for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for three weeks when I was an ecological clerk of works supervising the demolition of some old university residential blocks in case any bats were found.

Another important thing to bear in mind in ecology is the anti-social hours you sometimes have to do. The two species that feature heavily in ecology work are also species that require surveying at night. Want to see the latest movie on a weeknight? Sorry, that pond needs surveying for great crested newts. Fancy a girly night out on a Saturday? Errrmm... that building needs a dusk/dawn survey completing for bats.

Great crested newt Triturus cristatus
The point is, these instances make or break an ecologist. Some hate it and change career, perhaps into conservation or to work for charities; others grin and bear it, because the people you meet, the places you go, the knowledge that you are doing something to help nature and protect vulnerable species, and the sheer number of beautiful and wonderful things you get to see and experience more than makes up for frozen toes, mouldy waterproofs and sleep deprivation.

We are ecologists because we love it =]


About Me
I am a freelance field ecologist who undertakes ecological surveys for ecological consultancies and anyone else who might need me. I love the countryside, and walking, especially baking, and I would really like to get the chance to get into photography and to write more about the things I love.

Blog: http://ecologyescapades.wordpress.com/



30 May 2013

Decluttering... Clothes

After joining in on a Twitter session called #unclutter - the first that I've ever participated in, I thought I'd do a series of short posts looking at decluttering and keeping our lives uncluttered. If you've been interested in decluttering/minimalism for a while, then you may well have heard most of what I'm about to say, but stick with me - there may well be a jewel or two that you've not come across yet!

First, a bit more about the session. I really enjoyed the session, it was hosted on Twitter by Joshua Becker over at Becoming Minimalist. It was really fast paced and exciting, having conversations while checking back on other people's comments, retweeting the good stuff and favoriting others. I'd really encourage others to join in if they see these type of sessions advertised - lots of really good and useful information is passed back and forth in a really quick time span.



The topic for today's post is clothing. Being something that we use day in, day out, it can be something that we don't think about. It can be so easy to accumulate various garments without really thinking about it. Some shops even let you take home the hanger, so you don't immediately realise that what you've bought it taking more room!

  • The first thing with any decluttering really must be: One in, one out. This can be assisted by not taking the hanger from the shop, which will then prompt you to find a hanger to put the new item on. Which immediately means you have to discard an item.
  • Ideally take everything out of your wardrobe. Separate items into Keep, Not Sure, and Going. The Going pile can be separated into charity, bin, textile recycling, as needed.
  • If you need to, after decluttering, separate your winter and summer clothes. Store the clothes for the next season in a box or vacuum bag until that season comes around, swapping them for the season just gone. This will keep your wardrobe clear, so you can see what's available to wear now. It also means that you will go through the new season's clothes, discarding what you don't want - but more importantly refreshing your memory as to what clothes you have.
  • When you put your clothes back in the wardrobe after decluttering, or doing the season swap, but the hangers facing the wrong way. Then as you wear items, put them back the right way. This way you'll see what you do and don't wear - which will prompt you to declutter or remind you to wear the clothes you forgot about.
  • Something that we did after a mass decluttering was to purchase some nice wooden hangers - allowing us to take pride in the contents of out wardrobes and to keep the clothing hung on them in better condition for longer.
  • Keep like with like so you know where all types of each item are. A great example is having separate spaces or drawers for underwear, socks, etc. Then you know exactly how much of each you have.
  • The minimalist in me thinks why do you need more socks or undergarments than there is days in the week!!? But the realist in me realises that it makes sense to have more, if only so you're not running half loads in the washing machine! But perhaps more than a fortnight or a month's worth is taking it too far?
  • The last thing with decluttering is keeping uncluttered. One in, one out! If what you have is that fabulous then you don't need anything new, although if you do, then something less fabulous than the new item has to go!
Remember, all of the decluttering is up to you. You will refine your ideas over time. Don't feel that you have to declutter everything right now, if you're taking on this task because you want to and not because you're having to, then you have time. It's all about building that relationship with the things you have, so that when you discard them you know why and accept the reasons why.

So, over to you. What tips and advice do you have for people decluttering clothes? I've love to hear your views in the comments.

29 May 2013

Orange-tip butterfly - Anthocharis cardamines

Female Orange-tip
Date Photographed: 06/05/2013
Location: Nr. Silver Street wood, Wiltshire
Resources: http://www.britishbutterflies.co.uk/species-info.asp?vernacular=Orange-tip










Date Photographed: 25/05/2013
Location: Farley Hungerford, Somerset Follow my blog with Bloglovin

28 May 2013

27 May 2013

Minimalism and Hoarding - Two sides of the same coin?

There have been a couple of series about hoarding on TV recently, Britain's Biggest Hoarders on the BBC and Channel 4's The Hoarder Next Door. They show how big an affect living with a hoard can have on us all.

Minimalism and hoarding seem to be part of the same spectrum: that of our relationship with material things. Both minimalism and hoarding can be a result of difficult and stressful situations that happen in the lives of all of us.

Hoarding can begin as a collection and spiral out of control to the point where rooms are no longer accessible, including the kitchen and the bathroom. Minimalism makes every room available, but perhaps with lacking any contents. Both of these extremes can make the act of living very difficult. Whereas minimalists at their most minimal will be proud at the extent they have managed to rid their lives of material things, hoarders at their most hoarded will close themselves within their hoard and be too embarrassed to let anyone know their situation - but neither situation can be maintained in the long term.

A balance must be found. It can be terribly difficult to reach this balance, especially if there is a psychological aspect that is part of the minimal or maximal state of your life at this particular time. The balance can surely only be maintained if the relationship with 'stuff' is thought about and understood. It's really important to have things in our lives - they're useful.

Embrace what you need. Understand and respect why you need it or want it in your life. As a hoarder when you no longer need it, when it no longer serves you; then accept that the relationship between you and the object is at its' end. It may not be the end for that object, it may well be recycled, given to others, or sold - but for you, its' time is through. As a minimalism understand that while it would be very minimal to have one pair of clothes it is rarely useful. While it may not be minimal to have a cutlery set for 8 and 8 plates, it facilitates social events at your house, so appreciate that multiples are not only necessary, but can be very beneficial.

Both hoarders and minimalists categorise things and consider themselves organised people. Hoarder may attribute labels to there copious amounts of various things - having a 'food museum' as in one of these programmes, or wanting to keep 20 years of newspapers as an archive. Minimalists also categorise and may decide that certain things are counted as one item. A good example of this is a laptop, which may have a separate mouse and keyboard, as well as many mp3 albums and loads of bits of software installed - but all of these things are counted as 1 item, instead of the many items that they truly are. It's all about relationships with things, whether digital or material.

While there are many minimalist challenges, for example, fit all of your belongings on a 2 pence coin (ok, I made that one up), but some are close to being that extreme. The only point in the challenge is really to make you happier and more content with your life. It's the same with a hoard - the point that it doesn't work for you is the point to make the change.

As I've written before, it's normal to swing from decluttering loads to accumulating ever more before reaching the balance. But as we reach the point of having a positive relationship with things, the urges disappear and the era of maintenance and stability can begin.

24 May 2013

Himalayan catmint - Nepeta clarkei

Date Photographed: 21/04/2013
Location: The Courts, Holt
Resources: http://www.plantdatabase.co.uk/Nepeta_clarkei
Notes: Favoured by cats the world over for the scent of its leaves - apart from our Toby, it would seem!


23 May 2013

Geranium - Pelargonium 'Lavender Lad'

Date Photographed: 21/04/2013
Location: The Courts, Holt
Resources: http://geraniaceae.com/cgi-bin/detail.py?id=616

22 May 2013

Camping 2011 - Laughton Woods - 3-5 September

Sadly it's been a good long while since I last went camping. But having found these photos of my last camp back in 2011 has brought back some great - and not so great - memories.

We chose a spot away from the pine woodland for a change. If I remember rightly, we camped under Beech and it made a real difference. The light coming through the canopies of leaves really brightened the camp area.

We'd been looking online at some difference shapes for tarp set ups and decided on the one below as it provided protection from the wind behind us and from potential rain above, while still providing enough depth to use the heat radiation from the fire well.

Of the two of us, I'm definitely the more lazy camper! Mark always likes to sleep off the ground, sometimes making a bench structure, although this time opting for a structure just above the ground. I have a bivvy bag and have my self-inflating mattress and sleeping bag protected within that.
Me chilling out in front of the fire as some of our food is cooking.

Mark making his sleeping area comfy with fronds of bracken.
Leading up to our camping weekend, I'd been looking up some techniques for making cordage from roots. This idea came to me after watching Cody in Dual Survival make some in a programme. It turns out that it's quite a simple technique and I was able to show Mark, who made a fantastic bit of rope.

Mark's cordage. The technique provides cordage with strength much greater than that of the individual roots.
Here's Mark chilling by the fire.

Sadly, we had to end camp a bit early as I was being bitten frequently by an unknown insect. The bites were all around my waist, ankles and even in my armpits! Mark was affected, but luckily not so severely. After a sterling bit of research Mark found that it was an invertebrate called Chiggers that had been biting us. In the end I counted over 70 individual bites - it's an experience I will never forget!

Every day during camp we go an check on the car, on one occasion Mark filmed some of the walk back to our camp. It's a really nice bit of footage, so I've uploaded it to YouTube and you can watch it below:

21 May 2013

20 May 2013

Book Review: Garden your way to health and fitness

This book is declared by the authors to be an 'unprecedented' guide to healthy gardening. Perhaps it is, but the book doesn't provide anything new.

Maybe that's too negative an approach to take - and to be fair, I don't like giving negative reviews of books. For one thing, reading a book means an investment of time - and who would like to admit a wasted investment. However, one of the authors perhaps gives us a warning about this book in her dedication "...who expects little and gets less".

The book is really good for beginners to pilates and / or beginners to gardening. The first couple of chapters deal directly with exercise in an outdoor location, in the case of this book - the garden. The primary method of exercise is pilates, a very good physical fitness discipline. It is easy to see why this method has been chosen, the exercises provided are at the basic end of the spectrum of the pilates method. However, they are succinctly explained and accompanied by excellent photos that clearly show the exercises. I must admit that it is nice to see a book advocating exercise specifically in a garden location.

After the first couple of chapters the book becomes a book of basic gardening concepts. Safe gardening is covered and includes things such as stocking the tool shed. A brief explanation of garden design is provided and is followed by chapters about health and fitness in the ornamental garden and the productive garden. When a technique is discussed in the book, it is followed by photographs showing the right and wrong posture to use to ensure that you don't come off badly. For instance, pruning and lifting large plant pots. The book is a bit contradictory advocating organic while also advising us to use a burner to rid us of our weeds.

This is a very good flick through book. If you haven't exercised for a while or haven't been in the garden, then this book may give you some motivation to get out there and perhaps use your garden in a way you haven't previously. While the ideas in the book aren't original, the idea of putting them together is a nice idea and the photographs of different gardens and ideas. It probably makes the market for the book very niche, but as I got the book from the library it may well be a popular book for such institutions.

Own or Loan:         Loan
Read Again:           No
Recommend:         No
Overall out of Five:2

19 May 2013

Forbes' Glory-of-the-snow - Chionodoxa forbesii

Date Photographed: 21/04/2013
Location: The Courts, Holt
Resources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chionodoxa_forbesii

17 May 2013

Book Review: Flowers in the Field

Written by Faith Anstey, Flowers in the Field is a wonderfully methodical guide that helps the reader to enjoy wild flowers in a holistic way.

I began my journey into the delights of plants early 2012 and if I'd have had this book then, I probably wouldn't have had to spend the many hours looking for an identification to the plants in my photographs. Having said that, I do think that the hours are well spent for beginners and I wouldn't have had it any other way. So, just over a year on from beginning this journey I way given this book as a present from my parents.

It is an excellent book and I feel that, for myself at least, not having this book in the beginning has been a benefit. If this was the first book I'd read about plants, I doubt I'd have appreciated the work that has gone into creating such a wonderful guide. Faith really understand what a beginner needs and begins with discussing what a wild flower is - an important topic as we can then understand what this book will be focussing on.

The following chapters; how flowers work, where to look, name that plant, getting involved, and sources of help, build up the readers knowledge in a measured way that at no time feels overwhelming. One of my greatest concerns with moving forward with identifying plants was that of needed to get a diagnostic keyed identification guide. Faith uses a couple of keys from real guides and certain put my fears to rest. While I will definitely need to practice with whatever book I obtain, I know that I can come back to this book for guidance. It was also excellent to know that the keys came from the book that was at the top of my list!

This book is an excellent read and shows that Faith Anstey not only saw a gap in the market (beginner books about wild flowers), but also delivered to the market in that gap (beginners such as myself that need to know where they are at with their knowledge and experience - and where to go next). Excellent work.

Own or Loan:         Own
Read Again:           Yes
Recommend:         Yes
Overall out of Five:4

16 May 2013

Brimstone Moth - Opisthograptis luteolata

Date Photographed: 07/05/2013
Location: Tower Road, Melksham
Resources: http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?bf=1906

15 May 2013

Book Review: Wildwood

The first few chapters of Wildwood by Roger Deakin were like a call to action for me. I enjoy being around trees; even climbing them when the opportunity arises and planting far too many for our tiny garden. I enjoy looking at wood, inspecting and enjoying the patterns of the grain. The first few chapters were telling me to get out into the woods, to sleep in my bivvy and listen to the nearby rookery, just as Deakin does in this book.

Deakin inspired me to want to make a potting bench out of some wood that's been in our loft since before we arrived: project pending.

I don't like to be negative, but unfortunately this just wasn't a book for me. Well not all 400 pages of it anyway. Tedium set in for me after the first and wonderful 100 pages, yet I forced myself on. But then quotes were interjected between Deakin's prose more frequently, then more and more friends were added to the list that became too numerous to remember. It seemed like Deakin was just adding as many situations as possible, and as many facts as possible, no matter how losely connected with wood they were.

I faced that awkward moment most bibliophiles reach at one point or another, where you're not enjoying a book and need to decide whether it's worth persevering and forcing your way to the end, or simply putting the book back and walking away. After checking the reviews on Amazon, I chose the latter.

I find it a shame that Deakin felt the book had to be 400 pages long. I'm sure 200 pages of the best bits would have sufficed. As Walt Disney said "Always leave them wanting more". Unfortunately for me, this wasn't the case.

I realise that my comments may be a little controversial to many a Deakin fan out there. As I started struggling with the book, these thoughts were controversial to me too. I like Deakin. I first heard of him on Alice Roberts 'Wild Swimming' programme in 2010 and have yet been unable to read Deakin's 'Waterlog' book because there are so many reserves on it at the library.  I expected that this book would be a good as the book that's always reserved. Even though I've not enjoyed this book, I will still try to get my hands on Waterlog.

I know that Deakin was a great man, that's why I wanted to read this book. And for that reason, I feel that you should too.


Own or Loan: Loan
Read Again:  No
Recommend: Yes
Overall out of Five:2

Peacock butterfly - Inachis io

Date Photographed: 20/04/2013
Location: St. Giles Churchyard, Stanton St. Quintin
Resources: http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?vernacular_name=Peacock

14 May 2013

Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage - Chrysosplenium oppositifolium

Date Photographed: 10/04/2013
Location: Drew's Pond Wood, Devizes
Resources: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/species/opposite-leaved-golden-saxifrage
Notes: Likes damp places and is mat-forming.

13 May 2013

The Courts, Holt

A few weekends ago the National Trust offered vouchers to gain entry into their massive portfolio of 'special places' for free. If you've ever been to a property or landscape under the care of the trust you'll know that they are places that are special.

We decided to stay local and opted to visit the gardens at the Courts in Holt, Wiltshire. It's a place that we've been to many times previously - and, in fact, one of the staff there recognised us! (Which was quite nice and made me feel we'd made the perfect choice).

 The house that the gardens surround is privately tenanted, so there's no access. But the gardens are well worth a visit regardless. The Courts, as their interpretation board tells us was built in the early 1700s as a place that the weavers of the time brought their disputes for  arbitration.
Small features such as this alpine tub really make the garden feel special and provide areas of excitement and interest.

Lucy in the distance being patient as I dither around taking photos!
Here's what I believe to be the dye pool for wool. In another area there are standing stone pillars which cloth used to be hung upon to dry. A reminder that The Courts was built next to a watermill, which was unfortunately demolished in 1888.


Here is a view of one of the paths leading through the small arboretum at the far end of the garden. This was added in 1952 by Moyra Goff, the daughter of Major Goff - the man that gave the property and land to the National Trust in 1943.

"Please let the bees be!"
 Again, another feature. Although this time an important reminder that there are times when we need to leave wildlife to do its thing!

A bit of a hidey-hole to sit, observe and be in the lovely company of Lucy.
I really enjoy time at The Courts and would advise anyone that's passing to pop in and spend an hour or so there. It was very busy during this visit - perhaps because of the vouchers - and it was lovely watching and listening to the families and children as they played and interacted with each other and the garden. We saw one girl stop, drop, and roll - reminding us of the real reason for a garden - to play.

An attempt at art!
Thank you to the National Trust for a lovely afternoon out (and Lucy for driving), which allowed us to 'catch up' with a garden we hadn't been to since mid-2012.

12 May 2013

Burdock - Arctium sp.

Date Photographed: 10/02/2013
Location: Path next to Sainsbury's, Melksham
Resources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctium
Notes: These are the seed heads of the burdock. When the leaves and flowers are out I will update with photos and hopefully a species type.

10 May 2013

Five Fact Friday: Seed Dormancy

  1. Some seeds will only germinate after they have had a period of drying, while others need a really good soaking.
  2. Some seeds will germinate when fresh, which is common in the tropics. Others cannot do so because they have a thick seed cover that is impermeable to oxygen and water - these seeds need their coats wearing down and weakening over time.
  3. Some seeds will only germinate after a cold snap where the conditions are around 5 degrees centigrade. Others require a warm snap to get them on their way. This is known as thermodormancy.
  4. Known as photodormancy, some seeds require light in order to germinate, while in other seeds light will actually inhibit germination
  5. Some really difficult to germinate seeds require multiple dormancies, whereby they need the right conditions to present themselves twice. For instance the first dormancy may break open an impermeable seed coat, but the seed it still dormant until a cold snap awakens it.

References:
RHS The Garden, February 2013. Lancaster, N
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seed#Seed_dormancy

09 May 2013

St. Giles Churchyard - The Living Churchyard Project

Wood Anemone
At the beginning of 2009 I was feeling run down and lacking energy. Feeling really frustrated with life and wanting to get outdoors more, I started to search around online for things I could do outdoors and feel productive at the same time. We'd previously attended some Wiltshire Wildlife Trust talks, so I started looking at their 'What's On' calendar and stumbled upon something I found really interesting. A Living Churchyard Project.

A wonderful idea, I thought. Something that we could go along and just have a go. A project that wasn't so big as to be overwhelming and small enough to make friends and have a great time. We lived in Chippenham at the time so it was only about 10-15 minutes away by car and we decided to give it a go.
St. Giles Church, Stanton St. Quintin
We arrived and were met by a group of people headed by Ivan, who guided us around the churchyard and told us the aims of the project. The main task, we found, was the raking of the grass. Great, I thought - something that will help me build up my energy, but something I can do at my own pace.

Now, being a typical bloke, I stormed ahead with the raking. Lucy helped Sue out with planting some native wild flowers on that first task day we attended. I kept storming ahead with the raking for many months because it provided immediate gratification - you can see immediately the difference made by the raking. I didn't really talk to people much those first few months, but that was okay. They were a patient bunch!

Peacock butterfly

Now around 4 years later these people aren't just strangers, they're friends. Also, I've realised that there's so much more to this project than the raking! For instance, the next year Sue showed us the plants that herself and Lucy had planted the year before - alive and in flower!

There's a group of 5 or 6 of us that regularly attend and they're a joy to talk to. What's wonderful is that while this is a churchyard, and most of the volunteers attend the church: there's no preaching or religious instruction. We're there for nature and this gives you the option to be as close to God as you wish. In fact, I can count the times religion has been mentioned on one hand - and it was mostly about the carvings on the building. And what a building it is: It's a mixture of Norman and Victorian styles and also has what we're told is a rare pagan fertility symbol called a Sheela-na-gig.

Raking is an important part of the project, but it's just one of many. We keep records of the wildlife on the site and photograph as much of it as possible. There's even a Geocache here, for those that want to pop along to find it.

Recently we put up some more boxes for insects and birds:

Here is a swath of small and delicate violets, one of a few plants, including primroses and bluebells that have expanded their empire in the grounds over the years - and bring delight to us as we turn up year after year and learn the cycles of the churchyard.

We even have a couple of ant hills! Here they are near a lichen and moss covered headstone and partnered with lesser celandine during the spring.

I'm really glad to be a part of this project. A testament to how good this is project is, is that when we moved to an area that doubled the distance to the project, we still turn up!

Nothing is expected, yet there is so much to gain. Even if you're not near our project at Stanton St. Quintin, there are plenty of Churchyard Projects around the country - most are Caring for God's Acre projects, with many supported by local Wildlife Trusts  - so get involved. In fact, it doesn't have to be a Churchyard Project - there are thousands of volunteer projects around the UK. Just give them a go, find the one that suits you best, and have fun!

For details of the St. Giles project: click here.
Our churchyard project now has a blog, documenting our adventures as we look after habitats and wildlife within the chuurchyard, to read more click here.

08 May 2013

A Kermit, a treasure trove, and a series of caches!

It's been a while since I wrote about Geocaching, but we've been steadily racking up the numbers (currently 356 finds!) - and the adventures.

During the past week we managed to find a cache called Kermit's Treasure Trove - but it wasn't as easy as just popping in some co-ordinates and rocking up for a cache and dash. Oh no, we had to find three caches before that; a multi-cache followed by two traditional caches.

We started on a lovely evening and a short multi-cache around the village of Shaw. This consisted of 6 sets of co-ordinates that would lead us to the actual cache location. Sometimes it's easy to forget the beauty of the landscape that surrounds us in Wiltshire - this was a time that I was reminded. Unfortunately, I didn't have the camera with me, so no lovely panoramic of the scenery. Finding this cache provided us with the very necessary Kermit travel bug. Very necessary because it is connected to a key that would later provide access to the Treasure Trove we longed to find.
Kermit and the key. One of two travel bugs with the key.


The very next day we were at it again. This time we needed to get the North and West co-ordinates for the final cache and they were split into two caches. Both were roadside caches.
First we had to pop into the library (not a clue). Where we swapped one of our books for Richard Mabey's Beechcombing book. We also found the cache and had the first half of the co-ordinates. All we had to do was get the next lot and we'd be on our way to finding this rather interesting cache.
The next stop was near these rather lovely ponies. They were very friendly and were happy for some freshly pulled grass from down the verge! We, on the other had, were happy to have the final lot of co-ordinates.

Now, as we had Kermit and therefore the key, we knew the cache must be some sort of metal box. Something like a petty cash tin was what came to both of our minds. What would it actually be - and could we even find it?

Yep! Of course we did. Another drive, almost to home. Then a very short walk to get to the location discovered from the previous two caches. The treasure trove is below - it's one of the biggest that we've found for a while.

The treasure trove.

The goodies!
A big thank you to kermitcar for a really interesting cache and to Lucy for driving us everywhere to complete the series!