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We have a fascinating hobby, Geocaching. When I originally wrote this, in early September 2002, we had only known about it for less than a week, but we are now addicted to it.  Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users.  (A GPS is a Global Positioning System, a hand-held device, a bit larger than a mobile phone which receives signals from a network of earth satellites, and calculates your exact position on the face of the earth, to within a few feet.)

Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of a GPS unit. The basic idea is to have individuals and organisations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they take something from the cache, they should try to leave something for the cache in its place.

An old school friend, now hiding caches in Brazil, told us about it. A few days later we visited the Main Geocaching web site and saw that there was a cache hidden in Richmond, about three miles away.

We had an excellent day in Richmond on a Saturday in September 2002, for our first Geocaching expedition. We had six clues, corresponding to the six categories in Trivial Pursuit, and solving each one gave us one or two digits for the actual cache.  Each clue was accompanied by a coordinate to find a plaque or other object.

We spent ages looking for the first, returning to it after doing the remaining five, only to discover that we had walked within 15-20 feet of it. We saw a few parts of Richmond which we had never seen before.  My GPS work got us to within a few feet every time, and if I had trusted my skills better, we'd have found the first one a lot sooner.

After getting all the information required we worked out the coordinates for the cache, and set off. We got to within 15-20 feet, and started rooting about in light undergrowth and found it.  We took it to a nearby bench, took photographs of the contents, and my log entry, then took a small book about Picasso, and replaced a small wooden block of wood containing a maze trapping a marble. Alice took a picture of me with the camera in the cache, a nice idea. We then sealed the box and re-cached it.

It was the day of the Great River Race, when lots of rowing boats of all sizes row from Ham, near Richmond to Westminster. It was a memorable day, and we are now always looking  forward to our next mystery destination.

In June 2003 I was interviewed by BBC Radio Solent, the local radio station for the very south of England. They were doing a feature on geocaching. That interview can be downloaded from here. It is about 3 minutes long.  There is a second interview with a Hampshire Countryside Ranger here, talking about a geocaching family event in July 2003 (you’ve missed it), near Winchester, Hampshire.  It is also about 3 minutes long.

Each file is just under 3Mb. I acknowledge the copyright of the BBC in these articles.  Contact me for any further details.

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