Sunday, 24 November 2013

A day of disasters

The day started off badly - an electric razor that I ordered two months ago, arrived. That was bad news because I'd given up on it and ordered another one, which is on its way to me now. Oh well, they are good razors (I know because I'm already using one, this was going to be a spare).

Then ladysolly and I prepared to go out. Only we didn't; the car wouldn't start. I diagnosed it as dead battery, and I might know what drained it, but I'm not sure. So I put the battery on charge, and we decided to take our spare car, an 10 year old Volvo that still runs fine, but would probably sell for tuppence ha'penny if we retired it. That meant transferring a bunch of geocaching kit from the Freelander to the Volvo, which didn't take long, but led to another problem later, as you'll see.

We stopped off at London Colney services; it was very full. Absolutely heaving. Ladysolly says it's because it's Christmas, but surely Christmas is a month away? And London Colney isn't exactly a major shopping center. I dropped ladysolly outside M&S so she could buy the sandwiches, and I visited the petrol place to fill up. That took me longer than usual (see heaving remark above). Then I went back to park outside Starbucks, to pick up ladysolly when he came out with our coffees. That all took me quite a while; parking took a long time (see heaving remark above), but eventually I was nicely ensconced not far from Starbucks, and I sat and waited for her - sometimes she takes a long time getting these supplies.

Not this time, though. She went through M&S like greased lighting, and was in and out of Starbucks in a trice. And then ... well, we're not sure exactly what happened, but she couldn't find the car. Our best guess is that this was because when she looked in the usual place (just outside Starbucks) I wasn't there yet (delays caused by heaving, see above). So she walked round again, and again she didn't see me. So she phoned me.

I didn't answer the phone. So she phoned me again. Again I didn't answer, she was put straight through to my voicemail. She phone me five times, to no avail, but which time she was getting really angry with me. Then she texted me, I got the text, drove the ten yards to the front of Starbucks, and picked her up, by which time she was incandescent with rage.

I immediately got a major earful. I was roundly castigated for having switched my phone off; I pointed out that it wasn't off, I actually don't know how to switch it off, and anyway I got her text, so it couldn't have been off. She tried phoning me as we drove round the M25, and got the same problem. After we parked, I established that I could phone her, but she couldn't phone me.

When we got home that evening, I called Vodafone for tech support. They immediately diagnosed the problem, the phone was on "unconditional divert". I'm sure I didn't make that happen, and the sequence that you have to key in is so long and complex, it couldn't have happened by accident. I suspect Vodafone did it, but, oh well, I keyed in ##002# and pressed send, and everything works now. And while I was talking to them, I ordered the micro sim card that I'll need when I inherit ladysolly's phone. They wanted to charge me £2.50 for this, but I pointed out that I'm a "Valuable Customer", so they waived it. Useful phrase, that.

So. Back to the day's disasters ...

Starbucks put the coffee into china mugs, and when ladysolly repeated that this was for take-out, they transferred it into paper cups. But that lost some of the heat. The delay in ladysolly getting to the car made it cool down some more, and you can't stop for coffee on the M25. So by the time we could pull in, it was lukewarm, and that's being generous.

We found a place to park and have lunch, then went to the parking place for the circuit we planned to do, "Toot Hill Trivial Pursuit". We got our kit on, and I started up the GPS ... GPS? Where's the GPS? A substantial hunt revealed the fact that I didn't have the GPS. I had the PDA with mapping and Memory Map, but that's useless without the GPS that it connects to via bluetooth.

If I'd been in the Freelander, that wouldn't have been a problem; I have a spare GPS (and a spare PDA) in the back. But we were in the Volvo. My iPhone 3GS has always been useless for geocaching, because it takes a couple of minutes to respond to any movement. So I'm 20 yards past the cache and it's still saying it's 40 yards in front of me. Fortunately, Ladysolly has a 4S, and that works for caching, so we decided to use that. And I took my PDA anyway, because although I didn't have GPS function, I could still use it to read the cache pages, because I preload them on the CF card.

And off we went.

We found the first few caches, and then I took us 50 yards down the wrong track, which is usually no big deal, but on the way back to the right direction, ladysolly got a boot stuck in the mud and fell over. No injuries except to her dignity, but she did get very muddy.

And then something wonderful happened. I tried using my iPhone 3GS, and, as if by magic, it's now sufficiently responsive to be useful for caching! Instead of updating its position after a lag of a couple of minutes, it does it every couple of seconds. I updated the version of Memory Map only today; maybe that's what did it? Who knows. The problem with iPhones is that they make a major effort to hide any useful information from you.

Not that this helps much. Ladysolly decided that she wants an iPhone 5 for Christmas, so I'll be inheriting her old 4S in a few weeks anyway.

Then we couldn't find number six in the series, which everyone else could find. Then we couldn't find number 7, but several people recently couldn't find it, so it's probably gone. So I made a guess about our missing values, "pig" and "chicken" on the assumption that each one was different, only I made a blunder and took us to the wrong place. Ladysolly pointed out the blunder, I recalculated, and that, hilariously, took us back to where we'd parked in the first place. Well, ladysolly thought it was funny. So then we hunted around for this bonus, until a man nearby who was mending his fence said "Can I help you?" (meaning "what are you doing, acting so suspiciously?" but people tre too polite to put it that way) which normally gets a "No thank you, I'm fine" from me, but this time, I said "Yes, actually, that's very kind of you," and I explained that I was looking for a geocache, and his help in searching for it would be very gratefully received.

But he didn't help, he went back to his fence.

And at that point, we decided to give up, have our afternoon coffee from our flask, and drive home before it got dark. Thus avoiding any further disasters. Except, I broke a fingernail, but fortunately I can regenerate.

Six caches found, three DNFs. And I found the missing GPS, it had fallen next to the handbrake in the Freelander.

1 comment:

  1. Phew, its a good job ladysolly doesn't read this blog, it would spoil the surprise, i do hope daughters 1 & 2 can keep schtum too :)