Saturday, 29 September 2012

Around Broughton

My last chance to get out before the family trip to Center Parc. I say family, actually daughter.2 has refused, she had a very bad experience at a Center Parc once.

So I parked in Broughton, got on my bike and went round another Poshrule series. I went backwards, so I met two cachers going forwards; one was "We do cache and checks". I found 40 out of 40 caches; then two Wennington where I got all but one of the caches. So a total of 56 caches today, no rain, no tumbles, and a very nice day out.

Along the way I saw a fox ... with a bow tie!

He's a straw fox. Later on, I saw llamas, who look very cuddly, but I wouldn't push your luck.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Out to Oundle

It was wet on Sunday and Monday. I thought it was going to be wet on Tuesday, but it wasn't. Today, parts of the country would be wet, but I was hoping that around Oundle it wouldn't rain. So that's where I went.

It rained all the way there, but when I arrived, the rain stopped. I parked near a disused hotel, kitted up and set off.

The first route I did was Sonny's Moo Poo series, which richly lived up to its name. Many of the caches were really difficult, and I DNF'd two of them, and also another one en route. Then I biked around Oundle itself.

When I was a nipper, I went to the Grocer's Company School in Hackney. Oundle school has the same parentage.

If we look at the coat of arms above the door, we see:

"God grant grace" was our school motto (I never did understand what it meant). You can also see the shields with the cloves - it was the spice trade that made the money. And at the top, you can see Humphrey the camel (well, that's what we called him).

And I finished up with a trundle around Ashton. 35 caches and 4 DNFs. No tumbles off the bike, and I only got slightly wet, because it didn't rain until I was about to set off for home.

Weight report 21

16 stone 2 1/2 pounds.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Rain rain rain

Saturday was spent recovering from Friday, Sunday was a visit to daughter.1 and grandson.1. And the rain poured down, but we were indoors, so that was all good. And today I spent indoors too, avoiding the rain and messing around with computers. The server that has the Night Mail, and a couple of other caches, was looking a bit poorly. It looks like it was the hard drive, so I replaced it and reinstalled everything.

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Otmoor Ring

Out today with SimplyPaul, on foot, to do this ring. We'd heard how it was very wet, and we'd previous experience near here of bridleways a foot deep in water, so bike were out of the question.

How wrong we were.

It would have been great on bikes, and the distance involved would have been shortened a lot that way.

After about cache 40, my back started to hurt quite a lot, and by the time we got back to the car, after six hours walking, and no food, I was ravenous. So we visited a Pizza Hut for their £6 3pm-5pm special, including all you can eat salad bar, and that helped a lot.

Oh well. 10 miles, 52 caches, no DNFs and a very nice pepperoni pizza, with extra jalapenos.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Server swapping in Cheltenham

Off to Cheltenham today, to remove four servers that stopped working and replace them with four that do. I also sorted out the non-booting of two servers; they needed a nudge to get going. This was sorted out with a replacement CMOS battery.

Back home, I did more server work, to finish the configuration of the new servers and make one of them customer-facing.

And, of course, while doing all this stuff, I discovered other things that had quietly stopped working (or never did work and I didn't know). So today was a very computerish day.

Tomorrow I go out to do the very wet Otmoor Ring. Last time I was there, we did part of the walk in a foot of water.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The third trip to Basingstoke

And probably the last for a while. First I did the Lodden Loop. I did a ring near here a lonhg time ago; I remember some very soggy fields and a bridge that was almost collapsed. This time it was dry and all the bridges were sound. 15 caches in the loop, and I did several extras on the way round.

Then "Little hack", a circuit of 10 caches. I had one DNF, I think it's supposed to be under a little bridge, but after extensive searching, I came up empty.

Then a circuit round Hook, the Doyster Black caches. 48 caches done today, and 2 DNFs.

Towards the end of the day, I found this little memorial.

I didn't fall off the bike, but I did catch my shin a whack on something, and it's looking a bit poorly.

Weight report 20

16 stone 3 pounds. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Motor vouchers

On September 16, I got a spam "MotorVoucher", which seemed to be offering money-off deals for motorists. I say "seemed to" because I didn't investigate whether this was a scam whereby they take your money and do nothing (as is the case with most of the spam emails that I get, unless I'm wrong and there really is $2.7 million dollars waiting for me to claim it) or whether they actually did give you some sort of service. Whichever, I didn't want their email.

So I phoned them up on 0845 217 7946 and spoke to a nice man there. He told me that "Happy Tree emails" did their spamming for them, and he'd take me off their list (which means nothing, because I think it was a one-shot) and I should talk to Happy Tree for more action.

So I did. I went to the Happy Tree web site, which gives the mobile number of Kelvin Cooper, 07798 871021, and I called him on that. He was a bit surprised that I had his number, but as I explained, if you put your phone number on your web site, you shouldn't be surprised when people use it. Kelvin said that they don't buy lists, so it must be from a list they'd got some other way.

Kelvin looked into the matter, and said that he'd got my email address from "International Travel and
Health". So I googled them, and phoned them, asking for their "Compliance officer". That got me to Kate.

I explained the whole thing to Kate. She was rather annoyed. She said they used Happy Tree in the past (a year ago), and given them a list of emails to spam to for a "marketing campaign", but they shouldn't be using it now. And for selling "Motor vouchers"? Kate sounded very annoyed about this, and she's going to look into it.
And Kelvin has told me that he's going to contact "International Travel and Health" to check that I was opted in with them (I know I wasn't, because I've never used that email).

Kate also told me that they do all their spamming in-house now, becasue she's found that so many spamming companies are a bit disreputable.


Monday, 17 September 2012

To Kent

First a circuit of 12, done on foot, with a bonus. It was only two miles, but when I got to the end, I realised that I could more easily have done it on the bike.

The second circuit was on the bike, and included a previous DNF which was memorable because I'd been threatened (while on public space) by a woman from a house very nearby. "Next time you come here, I'll have a shotgun," she said, or words like that. Fortunately, she didn't spot me today in my bike helmet disguise. And I found the cache. Which was on public space.

Then another circuit on the bike, in which I totally failed to find a cache which I think was disguised as a pine cone, despite spending half an hour looking.

And finally a fourth circuit on foot (should have been on the bike again). In that one, a farmer found me under a bridge, after I'd just replaced the cache. He asked me, rather aggressively, what I was doing, so I told him I was looking at the wildlife. "This is all private property, you know," he said, so I pointed out that although that was indeed true, there was also a public footpath which I was, in fact, standing on. After a bit more grumping at me, he drove off in his high dudgeon.

A good day out. No rain, no falls, 67 caches and only the one DNF.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

An outing with ladysolly

It's been a few months since we've gone out caching together, what with my tendonitis, her abscess, my shoulder and her knee. So it was a great treat to have her alongside today.

We went up North to Litlington to a series of 14 caches, and managed to find them all, although one was a near thing. But then she pleaded exhaustion, so I did a few more on my own, then we went home.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Fixing technobike.2

Technobike.2 was the one where the electrics packed in. I took the front wheel apart (that's where the motor is) and let it dry out for a couple of days, in case it was water in the motor again. But that didn't do anything useful.

After a lot of sniffing around, I decided that it was probably the controller, so I took that apart, and was immediately greeted by the acrid smell of fried electronics. So I contacted Alienocean again, and bought a new controller from them, £38. It arrived, and I looked at it for a while, gathering up the courage to do the job.

By the way, I can really recommend Alienocean as a place to buy from - even though they don't sell 24 volt bikes now, they're still supporting customers who have one; I've bought two new batteries from them now, and this controller. Customer support is extremely important when you're buying something that isn't likely to be available from other sources. I mean, I can buy brake pads anywhere, but a new controller?

Today I set to. I unplugged the old controller from the bike, and set about measuring resistances. The motor is a three phase one (that's why it doesn't need brushes), so there are three main leads to it. I measured each pair, and got about 60 ohms, which is pretty low, although a short across my ohmmeter is 40 ohms, so it's probably less than 20. That's OK, I wouldn't expect much resistance, it's just a long copper wire. But it was good to know that the resistance wasn't zero, which would mean a short circuit in the wiring, and I'd have to replace that.

So I carried on and plugged in the new controller. There's three coloured leads to the motor, yellow, green and blue, one for each phase. And there's the same three colours at the controller. but you don't plug yellow-yellow, blue-blue and green-green, or at least that's the way Alienocean wired it, and why would I try anything different?

I switched on, and tried the throttle.


Oh shit, I thought.

Then I sat and had a think, checked that the connectors were tight, and noticed that one of the connectors had two wires on one side and three on the other. That can't be right, I thought, and after a bit more thinking, I decided that the new controller had slightly different connectors, even though it was exactly the same model. So I cut the relevant connector off the old controller and the new one, soldered the new one in place, and tried it again.

Hurrah! The bike works. With the front wheel running freely, at low speed adjustment, it will do 8 mph; at high speed, 18 mph.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Cavorting in Cambridge

I went up the A1M today. I had three circuits picked out, plus a puzzle cache.

When I arrived at the first location to get the bike out, it was a bit chilly, so I wore my coat, that's the first time this summer.

First a loop of 19 caches in Little Eversden, done on the Technobike, with a couple of extras on the way round. That's where I saw the Big Dish.

It's the white dot on the horizon.

I also saw this.

My GPS put it 100 yards from the meridian. Probably something to do with datums. Dati? What is the plural of datum, anyway?

Then the puzzle; found quickly. Then a few drive-by caches, one of which revealed a pleasant place to sit and have lunch.

And then the second loop. I decided to continue to use battery 7, since it had only done five kilometers today. 15-ish caches in Harlton. And some more dishes.

More white dots on the horizon.

And then the third loop, using battery 6, which included a rather fun multi, that was Haslingfield. And then I just dotted around some drive-by caches for a total of 68 caches.

Fine weather all day long; a very nice day out. And just when I was getting worried about where I'd fill up on petrol, I spotted a Tesco, which meant I could use the voucher they gave me, saving £3.

68 caches, no DNFs and no fall-off-bikes.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

A party

Out to brother-in-law's 30th wedding anniversary party today. Execllent food, especially the cheesecake. I didn't like the singers much; too loud and too Sinatra for my taste. The high volume made conversation impossible but I had my iPhone loaded up with P G Wodehouse, and I read 2/3 of a Jeeves book. Daughter.2 was there; she looked after grandson.1 this morning, including CHANGING A NAPPY, and it went well. Nappy wasn't the worst variety. Enough said.

Weight report 19

16 stone 4 pounds. Still going well!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


Today I visited my dentist, who is ever such a nice chap, and I have a lot of confidence in him.

One of my front teeth broke about 18 months ago; he made a fake tooth for me, which was built up round a pin in the base of the old tooth. That worked for several months, but got loose, wobbled for some weeks, and eventually fell out. I went back, and he stuck it back again. That lasted for some weeks. After it fell out the third time, he suggested plan B, a bridge. The idea is, you have a fake tooth which is attached to the tooth next to it. It's less of a palaver than an implanted tooth.

A couple of weeks ago, he measured me up for it; I bit down on a sort of putty, which gave an impression of my teeth, and he decided the colour (so it would match the others, I had no idea that teeth came in different colours), and today he did the real work.

First, he had to extract the old root. I've been dreading that. I've had an extraction before (wisdom teeth) and it was horrible. And I couldn't see how he was going to get hold of the thing, there's nothing to see. But, he assured me, it had to come out, or I'd be forever getting inflammations there (abscesses), and I *know* how painful that can be. Apparently, an abscessed tooth is the worst pain you'll ever feel; it wants to swell up, but there's nowhere for it to swell to.

So he injected me, front gum and rear, which wasn't fun but not too bad, then left me to stew for several minutes, while the anaesthetic took effect. Certainly my nose felt numb.

Then back to The Chair. He prodded and poked a bit, making sure that I couldn't feel anything, and then he got something a bit like a pair of pliers, gripped, and pulled, and after a bit (I couldn't see exactly what was going on, which is probably just as well), it came out. It was a lot less horrible than I thought it would be, although I wouldn't want to do it every day. Then he fitted the fake tooth, which, as far as I could tell, consisted of putting it in place and applying some glue.

So now I have a new fake tooth (and no pain), and you can't see any difference from a real one, and he says I can eat apples, which I was nervous about before. And I have a rather small root as a souvenier.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Basingstoke encore

Out to Basingstoke again today. I did three rings, on the bike. First a ring of 27, and I'm not sure what the theme was, because everything was anagrammed, and I think it's referring to some part of popular culture that I don't know.

Then a dozen urbans in a ring, where the theme was crisp flavour. I remember a time when you could only get crisp-flavoured crisps, and there was a little blue bag of salt that you could sprinkle.

The third ring was the Worting Walkabout, and on the way back to the car I ran out of battery and had to pedal twice as hard, puff puff.

There was a little bit of rain, but not enough to dampen my spirits.

I came off the bike once, but apart from a few nettle stings, no damage. 58 caches, no DNFs.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

To London to see family

In the morning, I got bike.2 ready for action tomorrow; I adjusted the gears so that I can access all 18 of them. I've never had the courage to adjust gears before, there's so many knobs to twiddle. And I tightened the brakes, got the rear carrier ready for action, and added a front bag carrier, big enough for a few bits and bobs, or even for a bike battery. Tomorrow I'm going back to Basingstoke to do the caches that I would have done yesterday had the bike not let me down. I'm hoping to get bike.1 working again; I've opened up the motor and left it open, so that any moisture inside will evaporate (although I didn't see any), and I also found a couple of the wires in the controller stuck together in a suspicious way that makes me wonder if there was a short circuit back there. I'll see when I reassemble it all.

Then we got on the train to Marylebone, and we arrived at daughter.1 in time for lunch; she and ladysolly went out, leaving me couchbound, because my right foot is hurting a bit, I don't know why, but I'm suspecting the boots which are great when biking, but this is the fist time I've tried walking a fair distance in them, and they came back with a great japanese meal for me.

Then daughter.1 told me about the wifi repeater she'd bought, which she said didn't work because she had a mac, and she'd ordered one three times as expensive which works with the mac. I thought about that a bit, and decided that this couldn't be right because a repeater works with the wifi, not with the PC, it just makes itself look to the PC as if it were the wifi, so I had a look at it, read the manual a bit, and found that there were two ways to set it up, the easy way (you just push a button on the repeater and it sorts it all out). But that only works if you have the correct protocol on your Wifi access point, and I'm guessing she didn't. The other way is slightly manual; you access the repeater using your browser by going to (or something like that). So I tried that, and it worked, and now she has wifi in her living room, and is quite delighted.

Then daughter.2 arrived, with Other Half, and we had a very nice afternoon. Charlie now runs everywhere, and is as fast as a rabbit.

Dinner was a take-out curry, also very nice, and then home on the Chiltern Line train. I was pleased to see a notice in the station announcing that the Paralympics end today; that means that soon I'll be able to go caching in London again.

Good news about the TomTom XXL - I worked out now to add caches to the POIs; my existing program for doing this seems to work fine.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Basingstoke on foot

First, I went to Tesco. Susan had gotten a petrol (5p/litre off) voucher, and I was very low, so I tanked up. And they gave me another voucher, this was for £20 off any TomTom product.

A few days ago, the 4gb memory card on my Mio stopped working, taking my copy of TomTom with it. I had bought a copy of TomTom for the Mio, a few years ago.

When I called TomTom to explain the situation, their attitude was basically "tough luck, buy another copy". Huh? Well. So I researched TomTom hardware, thinking that I'll run it without using the Mio, and I decided that the XXL Classic was what I wanted, and I could get it for around £110.

I took the Tesco voucher into Tesco with me, where I bought my day's rations (one sandwich and a bunch of fruit), and while I was there, I had a look at their TomToms. The XXL was the only one they had (or at least, I didn't see any others), and it was £100, which is a good price, and I would be getting it for £80 with my voucher. Some things are just meant to be, so I'm now the proud owner of a TomTom XXL. I only hope I can work out how to make it work - right now, all it's doing is showing me a picture of a TomTom. Oh, and they gave me another petrol voucher. This could run and run!

Then out to Basingstoke, to do the first circuit of the day, . I did two caches, and then the bike packed up. The electrics failed, so I biked back to the car, and left it there, and proceeded on foot, which is annoying because it was a perfect bikable circuit.

I did 21 caches, including a Church Micro, a multi that I did without visiting the church, because on my way to it, I spotted a tree with a suspicious-looking cacher's trail, and hey, here's a prominent looking stone leaning up behind it, and under the stone was the cache!

I'm glad to say that I was able to walk the six miles of the circuit; I wasn't sure that I'd be able to, because I've been avoiding walking for a while now (because of the hip tendonitis). I found all 21 caches, then back to the car for lunch.

Then out again to another nearby ring; 12 caches plus a bonus. While I was looking for one of them, I found a very old cache; it was in a couple of plastic bags and it had been archived. I first found it four years ago, "Oh! Mr Porter"

Back home, I dismantled the bike motor, thinking that maybe water has gotten in again (maybe I'll use some Red Hematite on it) but I couldn't see anything wrong. So I got my spare bike out, adjusted the gears (it's needed that for a long time), and the brakes, and the back rack, and I'm ready to go again while I sort out Bike 1.

Nine miles walked today, which is a useful thing to know that I can do, and 34 caches.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Hampstead Norreys and the badgers

Out on Wednesday with SimplyPaul in his new car. And what a car! The starter motor works, and the engine doesn't stall if you take your foot off the accelerator, a combination of problems that led to many difficulties with his old car.

So we loaded up the bikes and set off.

Then we turned round and came back, because I'd forgotten my bike helmet.

But then we set off. Clear blue skies, and a lovely day. We parked at the church near Compton, got the bikes out, and set off.

After a mile, the PDA holder on my bike fell apart (it had broken before, and was glued). So I biked back to the car to get a replacement, because doing 40 kilometers with a contraption made of elastic bands, would not have been good.

We got to Hampstead Norreys a lot later than I'd expected, on account of the false starts. but that meant we could have lunch (ham, eggs and chips) at the White Hart, one of the few pubs that gives its coords on the pub sign.

After lunch, we pressed on. The caches were all easy finds, so we made good time, but the inter-cache distances were a lot longer than on the circuit we did last week.

Along the way, we saw two dead badgers, a dead rat, a squashed hedgehog, and something dropped half a bird on us, narrowly missing Paul who had to swerve to avoid being dropped on.

We did the outer ring, and finished at 17:30. A quick cup of coffee and some restorative buns, and we went out again to try to finish while there was still light. We zoomed a few miles south, then did the caches we'd not covered so far, and got back to the car just as dusk was falling.

I fell off my bike once, but it was a very minor fall, I sort of crumpled as I hit the ground, which was thick grass. So no damage done.

The repaired battery #7 worked like a champion. I also gave batteries 1 and 5 a go, but they really are feeble, I think maybe it's time to retire them. And the bike speedometer was showing speeds up to 60 kph, including 3kph when stationary. So I think it's time to change the battery on that. I also tightened up the rear brake, which had become a bit loose.

More coffee, and supper, and then we did a bunch of drive-bys to finish the day.

Along the way, we saw these:

Back home by 11pm, for a very good day out. 70 caches done, and no DNFs. But we missed two of the Badger series, because they'd been disabled, and only replaced the same day we went out, so we didn't know about them.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Monday, 3 September 2012

Biggin Hill

Today, I started off near Biggin Hill (home of the RAF until 1992), a ring of 17 caches some of which were quite difficult, but with some persistence I got them all. I did that ring on foot, because it looked like it wouldn't be bike-friendly, and after walking round, I think I was right.

Then on to Westerham for a ring of 20 caches, and nearly all of them were difficult, so I was pretty pleased to get 18 of them. I did those on the bike, using battery 6, but it was only a few kilometers.

That took up the whole day's caching - difficult caches are more time consuming. But they're also more satisfying when you get them. And more frustrating when you don't.

I also phoned my bike battery supplier, and he said it would be OK to open up the battery, I wouldn't invalidate the warranty. So I did, and the problem was very simple - a cold-solder joint from the power to the fuse. So I resoldered it properly, and now the batttery works fine. That's saved the courier costs up to Scotland and back, and probably several days.

One of the drives on my Ten Terabyte Tower was misbehaving. SMART said that it had 1800 reallocated sectors, which is a lot, so I took it out and replaced it, and the new drive is fine. I noticed that I'd put a label on that drive - it had failed in another system, and I'd reformatted it. Obviously not a good idea. That drive will probably turn up in a cache some time, I won't be using it again.

Ten TerabyteTower

I just built a box using an ordinary-sized tower case, into which I stuffed 10 hard drives at 1tb each. The system drive is an 8gb CF card, and it runs beautifully. I could have put 10 3tb drives in, because on a per-gigabyte basis, the 3tb drives are cheaper than other drives now, but I have 1tb drives left over from previous systems, so I recycled those. One very nice factor, is that the CF card, plus IDE adaptor, costs less than £10.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Too easy

Recently, I sorted out a problem that's been niggling at me for a while. My blog was at and I wanted it to be at A small thing, but it's kind of neater. Google make it possible to do that, and give simple instructions. If you don't have your own domain name, they tell you exactly what to do. If you have your own domain name and the registrar is Godaddy (one of the commonest registrars), they likewise make it very simple. If your registrar is someone else (and the registrar is doing your DNS for you), it's also pretty easy. What they don't tell you, is how to do it if you're doing your own DNS, which is what I do. OK, I suppose that the number of bloggers doing that is less than 1 in a thousand. but even so. I had to read their various instructions, very carefully, and deduce that what I needed was to add to the DNS file: IN CNAME Why didn't they tell me that? It's part of a wider issue. A lot of people give you the idiot instructions for doing something when you don't know what you're doing. But they don't give you the "expert" instructions for what to do when you do know what you're doing. I do appreciate that there's more idiots than experts, but all it takes is a link "Experts click here" and a very short page saying "Edit your DNS file to add IN CNAME" and restart named. Even worse, is when you're given instructions in "Noddy language", whereby they carefully avoid using the correct technical terms (which I understand) in favour of using made-up Noddy language, which could mean anything, and I have to guess what they mean. OK, I can see that using the correct terminology will scare some people, but again, why can't they do an "Experts click here" that gives you the explanation in accurate technical terms?