Loving our new hobby!

I’ve recently rediscovered Geocaching, which I spent, ooh, a couple of months failing at back in 2011. This time I’ve persevered and got the family involved too. Wider family has also been introduced to the game, successfully so far (ie they don’t all think it’s daft ;-)).

You can find out what I’m rambling on about by going here: http://www.geocaching.com

Today the little cacher and I have been out and found two more caches, bringing our total to 25. As this seems like a bit of a milestone I thought I’d log the occasion here. All of our finds have so far been ‘traditional’ geocaches, ie containers of varying sizes. As the oft-quoted saying goes, we’re ‘using billion-dollar satellites to find tupperware in the woods’.

This week we’ve also added the fun of trackables to our caching obsession, sorry, hobby. Trackables are tags attached to objects/toys which travel from cache to cache on a mission set by their owner. Geocoins are similar and can be minted with the owner’s design on. Anyway, we have found a Travel Bug (object attached to official trackable tag) and, today, a Geocoin. The former is on its way back to Germany after a race it took part in. Anyone giving up on me yet? It’s fun, honest! The latter has been travelling almost six years and has clocked up over 4,000 miles. We will move them both on to a cache away from our city.

I must also admit that we’ve bought a few trackables of our own. One is ready to be released, with its mission findable online via the code on the tag. We hoped to set it off today but neither cache had a big enough neck to fit it through. Will need to find a box rather than a tube/jar! Little cacher is going to release the second trackable, with a mission of her choice. I just hope it keeps going and doesn’t disappear into the big wide world as many of them sadly do. I have explained the potential transcience of them to her. Just hope I can deal with the fallout if it comes.

So, does anyone who reads this blog admit to being a cacher? Or is it just me…



Where did that year go?!

It seems I haven’t posted on my blog for over a year, where did the time go?!

I have been busy on other social media outlets, ie Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. 

When online, I am mostly to be found on Twitter, keeping up with daily news, politics and local issues plus a wealth of fun stuff, courtesy of the 2001 people I happen to be following at any one time.

I follow several blogs and am both amazed and grateful that the bloggers find time to keep their musings up to date.

If anyone is still watching this output, thank you for your commitment and I hope to do more justice to it soon!




Feeling Fine with the Flags

I’ve decided I quite like how the UK is embellishing itself in this Jubilee/Olympic year. It did take a while to get used to seeing Union Flags everywhere (see, I’m not going to fall for that Union Jack nonsense!) but it’s a good job I did as they really are everywhere. They’ve sprung up en masse in domestic and civic gardens. It’s getting difficult to find a shop window which doesn’t contain UK-coloured bunting. Add this to the pervading fashion of the flag (or derivation thereof) appearing on fabric, crockery or food and one could begin to feel a touch of overkill on the national pride stuff. So far for me (though I don’t think that day can be too far off) this hasn’t happened and for some reason I feel a little grin coming every time I come across another variation on the theme. It’s a fine line between this and annoyance and I’m happy to say I’m currently still on the jolly side of the fence.

Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen!

Last weekend Spouse and I spent two nights in Copenhagen to mark our tenth wedding anniversary. Twenty years ago when we were planning our Interrail route, we’d crossed it off both our lists as it didn’t tie in with our other destinations and was ‘easily accessible from the UK’ anyway. Finally we made it!

We stayed at Hotel CPH Living which is a floating hotel with twelve lovely rooms. Great views of the canal and city coupled with friendly and helpful staff. Full marks from us!

We arrived at lunchtime and got the Metro to Christianshavn, the nearest stop to our hotel/boat. Dragged the suitcase over the cobbles beside a beautiful canalscape, checked in then crossed the bridge over to the city centre, 10 mins walk away. We found our way to Stroget, the main shopping thoroughfare and had a late lunch in a pub. Wandered back to the hotel for a nap then used the web to find somewhere nearby to eat. Booked into the Asador Restaurant online where despite the slow service we enjoyed fantastic steak and fish.

Next day, Sunday, we enjoyed breakfast in our room then walked to nearby Christiania which I had first heard of many years ago. Christiania is a ‘free’ community living (squatting) on ex-military land which has recently (2011) celebrated its fortieth anniversary. It was initially tolerated by the city authorities as a social experiment but due to the open recreational drug culture and the increased value of the land it stands on, has seen ups and downs in city relations over the years. Do check out their website for more details. They’re currently selling shares in the land to strangers so that they can legally own it without having to ‘own’ it, which would contravene their freedom mindset.

We avoided the main drag ‘Pusher Street’ (no prizes for guessing) and walked across a bridge to a quieter wooded area alongside a lake. It was interesting to see the individual, owner-built houses along this picturesque stretch of the city. Christiania is also famous for those bicycles with wooden containers at the front for children to ride in – we see them and ones like them all over Cambridge now but the original workshop is still there, producing actual Christiana Bikes.

We walked back to the canalside in Christianshavn and had drinks and a snack before crossing the main canal into the city and heading to our next destination, Danish Museum of Art & Design. We share a love of modern design, well 20th Century I guess, which may not be classed as ‘modern’ anymore and this was one of two museums in Copenhagen to offer exhibits on the subject. It was a long walk.

We went through the most photographed part of the city, Neuhavn, with its coloured houses, tall masted boats and hoards of tourists enjoying the sunshine. We passed Amelienborg Palace where the Queen and her sons live, stopping to watch the guards changing at their little huts. Shocking to see such lack of discipline – they’d never get into the British equivalent! Moving, smiling, I don’t know! Plus their trousers looked like pale blue tracksuit bottoms.

Anyway, a few foreign embassies later, we arrived at the museum to find it wasn’t free on Sundays as we’d thought but given the distance covered, went in anyway. Tripadvisor had reported/warned that it contained many chairs, this was certainly true. It gets a little annoying after a while to be looking at reams of chairs with (obviously) ‘do not sit’ notices; hence the room at the end where you could try some of them out was welcome and fun. Not often (yet) that you get to sit on a chair made from recycled plastic bottles which has upholstery but no frame. I can happily report that it took my weight! We had a beer and cake in the peaceful garden before heading back towards the boat. Overall we didn’t think too much to the museum, I found there was too many ceramics for my liking and Spouse didn’t like the way current designers had been allowed to play around with/express their thoughts on the exhibits (I found this part somewhat confusing but different in a good way).

We really didn’t want to walk back but no taxis were around and we set off. It was a long way back and when we finally got to the boat we had been out for six hours,at least five of which we calculated we had been on our feet. I mused to myself that we often do this on our city trips; there is always so much one wants to see that one tends to forget to treat oneself kindly, squeezing everything possible out of the time available. We did the same in Lisbon and Boston, shuffling back to hotels with blistered and (in one case) bloodied feet. It’s a strange touristy compulsion which takes us over on these trips…

Anyway, we had less than an hour on the boat before setting off (in a hastily booked taxi) to our first evening activity, Copenhagen Ice Bar. A gimmick, we know, but an experience nevertheless. It turned out to be a pricey experience and, of course, a chilly one. There is zero atmosphere and people are let in and out on timed tickets but the cold forces you to jiggle a bit to the loud music and the cocktails (served in glasses made of ice) were good. It’s supposed to be an advert for the Icehotels but Spouse pointed out that this would be enough to put most people off, if you can bear to stay until your timeslot ends you’re doing well. For a one-time visit, it was cool (sorry).

We then crossed the street to try out a restaurant serving Danish specialities, Puk Restaurant. This was a wonderful, cozy basement (as many cafes in Copenhagen are) with a front-of-house lady who took no nonsense from the clientele, but was simultaneously helpful and added to the relaxed atmosphere. We had the Danish tasting menu which was a great experience and saw me eating things I’d never had before, like picked herring and dripping. Having studied in Russia in 1993 I’m usually game to taste most things. We had a bottle of fizz and a good time.

Monday morning dawned too quickly and we packed and paid up, taking breakfast on the open-air sundeck on the roof. We watched a barge pootling slowly along the canal, with men fishing out numerous muddy bicycles and a chair as they went. By the time we left the boat they had quite a hoard. We saw them again later and were told by a local that it’s customary for people to throw their old bikes into the canal when they get a new one, hence this clean-up operation. This seemed out of character to the Danes we had encountered so far.

Our morning destination was Tours CPH where we had booked a two-hour segway tour of the city. We had arranged that morning with Seamus, the owner, that we could leave our luggage in the shop, which saved us an early morning walk to the left luggage at the train station. Seamus comes from Dublin and has been running his Segway/Electric Bike tours since 2009. They consistently get top marks on Tripadvisor (yes I do tend to get a lot of tips from there!) and I can only concur. After 10 minutes familiarising ourselves with the Segways, coincidentally in the little square outside Puk from the night before, we set off. Our crash-helmets had radios in so we could hear Seamus’ commentary and driving instructions as we went. We set off on the road (driving a crazy vehicle on the wrong side of the road in a foreign city!) and soon blended onto the bus-lanes, which unlike here in the cycling city of Cambridge UK, have their own traffic lights and times to stop/go separate from cars and pedestrians. The Segways can get into parks, alongside lakes, through little backstreets etc, it’s a really good way to cover ground and we saw lots of new places plus recovered a bit of the ground we’d walked the day before, this time with the historical commentary from Seamus. I think this was probably the highlight of our trip for both of us. On the way back Seamus pointed out useful places where we could get lunch before heading for the airport and made sure we knew the way to the Metro.

We had half our lunch at a pavement cafe, where I joined in the Copenhagen way of having a blanket on my knee (seeing blankets on every outside chair made me very happy – not something which would happen here, I fear they’d unfortunately disappear quite quickly) and half from a traditional hot-dog stand, where I finally tried the famous red sausage hot-dog with everything on it. Yum!

Time to trundle back to the airport, via a couple of gift-shops. Free wifi in the airport. I like this city!


There are always a few bucket lists to be found on Twitter and the like, real ones I mean, made by people with life-limiting illnesses who would like to accomplish certain things before they pass away.

In stark comparison there’s the current series of An Idiot Abroad, on Sky1 I believe, where Karl Pilkington is sent on a few jaunts taken from common ‘things to do before you die’ lists. I watched one this evening as the subject matter interested me (spending a night on a private island – I’d rather a fortnight, thanks!) and got to wondering what my top bucket list items would be.

The parameters seem to be travel and experiences, rather than world peace or the end of famine. So after a little thought (and this is therefore only my first draft!) I came up with a few personal ones:

Travel first class on a plane

Travel to both Australia and New Zealand (preferably on that plane referenced above)

Spend the night in the cab of a lorry. Now this is an odd one. I think it first stemmed from a love of Yorkies but grew over time as I noticed the lorries pulled up in lay-bys, curtains closed with light flickering behind, little worlds of their own….I wouldn’t do it though, so don’t bother offering! Too scary and what about the loo?!

Own and run a tea-shop cum gift-shop (every woman I know secretly wants to do this!)

Live by the sea

Live by a river (ie at the end of the garden, which would slope so no flooding)

Run a marathon (Get up off that floor! I know this one will never happen!)

Work with animals for a while. Not sure where, some kind of rescue centre I guess. With animals who don’t tend to bite.

Own my own private island somewhere nice. Not too hot but not rainy. And have the staff to keep it private when I’m not there and the helicopter and pilot to get me there.

Oops, I think it’s now becoming a ‘what if I won the lottery?’ list, so I’ll stop there for now.

How about you? What’s on your bucket list?

London at 40 (part four of four)

As the large white wine from the interval was having some effect on an empty stomach I did persude the girls to hang around the stage door with me for a while. It quickly got cold and we were hungry, it being almost half past ten at night, so we decided to go and eat instead. It’s very hard to pick out who’s who anyway when they slip out into the night in their civvies!

We had a nice meal at Cafe Rouge and were turfed out politely at Midnight, when we realised we were the only ones keeping them from locking up! Back at the hostel we didn’t look forward to having to check out in the morning as this would involve getting up in a timely fashion.

On Sunday we pulled our cases to Kings Cross but the long queue for Left Luggage put us off so we hauled our gear onto the Tube and went for a sit down in Hyde Park. All too soon it was time for two friends to head home. We all said we’d like to do this again sometime, preferably before we start turning 50! Next time it may even be in Germany, where one of my pals lives.

The remaining pair of us now went to the V&A, where we could finally lose the luggage for a while. We went to the new exhibition ‘Power of Making’ and had a drink in the lovely inner courtyard garden which has a big pond and a great view of the buildings architecture. We also spent a while enjoying the gift shop, which was a particularly good example of such things.

Then we headed off on a bus to our final destination – afternoon tea at Fortnum & Masons. This experience is one I shall remember for a long time and it was very generous of my friend to treat me to it. She also ensured we got a fabulous table with a view of Picadilly and the privacy required for a good gossip. The fantastic spread and the quality of every item on the cake stand was wonderful. I chose to have Rose Pouchong tea, treating myself to some from the shop later as a memento. I am proud if a little disappointed to say that I didn’t manage to try everything on offer. We left feeling like we wouldn’t need to eat for a week (and I still felt full the next day, unusually for me!). This was a nice byproduct of the experience as one doesn’t go to this kind of things to stuff oneself. It just happened!

So after half an hour in the foodie part of the shop, we went back to Kings Cross and went our separate ways, me on the train back home and my friend to Heathrow to catch her flight. I was so sad to say goodbye to everyone after such a full and wonderful weekend. Yet fizzing inside from the sheer fact that they’d planned it for me and it had been so amazing.

Fabulous at 40. That’s me …and my weekend!