Sunday, July 24, 2016

Geocaching: Caching Bristol

I had a nice week of geocaching in Bristol. I had ambitions of doing some "numbers caching" -- either breaking my record of 5 days in a row or 8 caches in a week. But to get the sixth day would require caching before my 6am taxi ride to the airport (or after midnight), and after 7 caches, I lost my pen and it was getting dark on my last evening, so...I guess I'll settle for seeing the UK pass Canada for #2 country in which I've cached.

All of the caches I found in the UK were what's known as "urban micros". They are tiny caches, just big enough for a tiny piece of paper, and they're hidden in busy areas where you need to avoid being detected finding, signing and replacing the cache.

Ordinarily these are not my favorite types of caches. But in Bristol they ended up being pretty neat, mainly because Bristol is a cool city, and they took me to some interesting places. Also, I think I'm finally getting better at finding these micros.

The first cache I found, shortly after landing, was in a car park. But what a view!
My hotel (and this car park) were right near St. Mary Redcliffe church, known to Elizabeth I as, "the fairest, goodliest, and most famous parish church in England." The hide was fairly clever -- it was inside a bike lock (sans bike) attached to a bike rack in the parking lot.

The next day at lunch I found one in Queens Square. I didn't take a picture, but here's one from 2008 I took of the statue the cache is named after: 

The third day I found my first "Church Micro". Hiding micro caches near churches is apparently a big thing in the UK. They've hidden over ten thousand of them. This one was in a church that was destroyed during the Blitz, which is now a park. Bristol was experiencing a record heat wave when I was there, so the parks were full. I thought it was a bit odd for people to be out in the heat, but I realized they probably were better off in the park since most of the buildings weren't air-conditioned. Anyway, I had to come back four times before the bench the cache was attached to was clear of people.
On Day 4, I found another blitz-related cache on my second try. This one brought me to a spot where a tram rail had been sent by an explosion into the courtyard of St. Mary Redcliffe. They left it there to remind people how close the church had come to destruction.
Then it was another "Church Micro". This was actually pretty far down the street from the church in question, but it was a nice view.

The final cache of Day 4 was in an open area near the water. Previous logs said it was hard to access during festivals and whatnot, but at around 9 at night it was mostly deserted -- but still light out!

My final cache of the trip was in a park. For this one, I'll show you a little bit more about how urban micros work. This one was a fake screw on the underside of a bench. Once you know what to look for, it's pretty obvious. On some benches, this would be trickier, but this screw was fairly obviously not one that belongs to this type of bench.

Anyway, geocaching got me out and walking, which helped (maybe) with the jet lag. Because these types of caches are placed in high-traffic areas, a few of the more interesting ones had gone missing. I've marked them down for my next trip to Bristol.

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