Thursday, 27 March 2014

The 11th City Cachers Catch-up event and another cache

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Today Kevin and I are planning to meet at the 11th City Cachers Catch-up event at the Gilhooleys Irish Pub in Brisbane city. (see the earlier blog update about the 10th CCC as well)  We have been there before and enjoyed the night out with like-minded people.  We have a delicious meal and chat with just about everyone while enjoying a drink.  There are old and new members, the usual discovering of TBs and lots of stories about... yep... caching!

This time Bristracker was around to take pictures (because I always forget) so I have at least something to show:

Of course jokes (real or invented) are being told and one of them was so funny, and shows so well what we cachers are up against now and then, that I won't withhold it from you:

There was a bunch of cachers who had parked their car and were searching in an area where they thought GZ was.  Now, I don't know if it was their GPS or just a well hidden cache, but they had a bit of trouble finding it.  Next they know a police car pulls up and the policeman inside sits there for a while staring at them.  Then he leaves, leaving behind an uncomfortable bunch of people, but they decide to persevere with their search until.... the same police car returns and again the policeman stares them down before leaving the scene once more.  Puzzled and worried the cachers keep looking, but to no avail.  The cache is still eluding them.  Then the police car returns again and this time the cop gets out of his car and asks: "Have you found it yet?"  

Yes indeed, sometimes a policeman is a fellow geocacher and hides caches as well!!!  Although, don't always expect to be questioned by someone 'in the know', because some policemen can get suspicious with good reason... :-)

Well, all good things come to an end and so too this night out with the crew.  On the way in I had tried to find a new cache in the city, but someone was smoking a cigaret right next to the hide, so I decided to go back afterwards.

St Francis House

The entry to the alley

The  actual hiding place in the alley in daylight

Since Kevin had no luck some time ago, because a motorbike was parked right in front of it, he wanted to come too.  We walked to the alley, because that was all it was, and I tell you this, it's not a place for the faint hearted in the dark!  It being a real backway alley, and very quiet at that time of the night, it was teeming with rats...  Luckily I am not easily scared, and nor is Kevin who picks up the container, so we take our time to log our find and retrieve a geocoin from Finland:

Taking pictures proves impossible in the dark without a flash, which is a shame, because while we are standing still all the rats return and would have made a beautiful eerie photograph... :-)

The other side of geocaching...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The other side of geocaching is the social side, one I enjoy very much.  And here's a nice story with a surprising outcome:

In the week before the 15th  three members of the Brisbane geocaching group asked for someone to put them up for a night as they were planning to go caching on the Sunshine Coast that weekend. As I have enough room and would be home anyway I put up my hand, so on Saturday night Heather, Colin and his sister Dianne arrive after a full day of caching.  After a shower they make themselves comfortable and we all settle down with a glass of something or other.

Heather and Colin I have known for a while now, because I have met them a few times at various events.  Dianne I am introduced to as being Colin's sister and living in Sweden.  She's on a geocaching holiday here and to meet up with her brother and parents.


Colin - setting me up for a picture rather than for playing golf :-)


We talk about a lot, and in the meantime Heather discovers my 12th scale witch's cottage and we all have a look at my other houses and roomboxes.  Colin tells me about his mother and how she used to have dollshouses.  During the evening they tell me a whole lot more, like the fact that Colin and Dianne's parents are also into geocaching, that their parents are divorced, that their mother has bought a little camper and is planning to travel around Australia.  All of these titbits about the family (and I have known their surname too for a while) should by now have told me something, but.... it didn't.  I also get to hear that Heather is joining Colin and Dianne's mother on part of the trip and they say that she's game.  I say that I would be game too, as I like that sort of travelling, not meaning anything in particular, but they tell me that I could possibly join their mother on the last part of the trip from Adelaide to Brisbane if I wanted to...

Anyway, after a pleasant evening, during which I was also taught a few things about the technical aspect of geocaching where the computer and GPS are concerned, we call it a day.

The next morning we have breakfast together and after that they show me their collection of geocoins and path tags.  I am even given a few path tags as a thank-you for their stay with me.  Before we part I get the details to phone their mother to find out about the round-Australia trip and I promise them to contact her.

They pack up and leave for another day of caching and leave me we a good feeling.  I had a great time!

Next we move to the following day and guess my surprise when I read a comment on facebook:  Colin and Dianne's mother knows me from... Russell Island!!!  And then the penny drops...  Of course, I have known this lady for a few years before she and her husband moved away from the island and split up.  I had been going to the Brisbane dollshouse club with her and had joined her little dollshouse group on the island.  I knew about her son, I knew she had a daughter in Sweden... I knew so much, and still, I never made the connection.

Well, in the meantime I have of course contacted her and we are planning to catch up, although this will have to wait till after Dianne's visit to her, her upcoming birthday and probably Easter.  Busy times ahead...

Geocachen in Houten

Friday, March 7, 2014

As I am more than a little behind with my blog updates I'll keep the update to the bare facts.  Near the end of my trip I spent my time with my brother Wim and his wife Gerrie.  I had been talking so much about geocaching and Gerrie had already come with me once in 's-Hertogenbosch, so that both Wim and Gerrie decided to join me on my last geocaching tour in Houten.  Wim particularly liked the idea that one of the caches was hidden near the old railway station, which had been moved to its final situation when Frank and I were there to witness the exercise.  Since everything is in walking distance and the weather not too bad, we went for our walk.

Het Oude Station

While we are searching near GZ a door across the street opens and a lady in a wheelchair beckons me.  I walk over and she says: "That lady is right in line of the cache from here, but I don't know if it's in the wall or on the ground."  I have a further brief chat with her and while I am walking back I see Gerrie holding up her find.  She couldn't have overheard us, so did a fine job of finding the container!  I logged and after we took a few more photos of the beautiful old building we walked back in search of the next cache, which was to be found at the other side of Wim en Gerrie's place.

Grenspaal Schonauwen

As you can see, a beautiful old boundary stone.  It belonged to a castle that once stood here.  Wim discovered GZ instantly (we didn't even need the GPS for this) and Gerrie discovered the cache container, which sort of matched the boundary stone.  Lucky for us it was still present to log my find, because the next cacher had to log a DNF as it had disappeared.  An unfortunate happening in The Netherlands, I discovered.  I think it's because most caches are in built-up areas and are easily spotted by muggles or otherwise, although we took great care to use stealth.

The cash owner spotted my log and noticed that I am living in Australia.  She contacted me to tell me she often travels to Aussie and would like to live here.  We are now regularly in touch.  It's this kind of social aspect of geocaching that I love too.

Het Bastion

Ruins of a Turkish Bath

Ruins of a Turkish Bath

A large rijnaak (type of boat) in the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal

The hint was: Look for GC ;-)

At GZ  looking down from the Bastion

GZ at the far end in the corner
Last but not least: Het Bastion.  A nice view across the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal in all its winter glory.  On the way to GZ we passed the ruins of a Turkish Bath of which I took some pictures.  The cache was easily spotted and then I signed my last log in The Netherlands.  At least, for the time being as I am hoping to come back again in the near future.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Carnival in 's-Hertogenbosch

Or should I say: Carnival in Oeteldonk, which is the name for the city during carnival.  Carnival has been around since the Middle Ages I have been told and it's most certainly still celebrated nowadays.

Foto: Schilderij Gevecht tussen carnaval en vasten
This painting depicts the early carnival celebrations
It should really start on Sunday morning, when Prince Carnival is welcomed at the railway station at exactly 11:11 am, but a lot of keen people seem to have enough time nowadays to start a few days before.

Central railway station carnival style
At the big market square in the centre of the city a (mostly paper maché) statue of farmer Knillis is revealed, which will stay there for the next three days.  In my days and before then, most people used to wear a blue farmers shirt (a kiel), a red handkerchief around the neck and a black cap on the head.  This used to be the attire of a real Brabant's farmer. Nowadays however that seems to be old fashioned, because I do see so many more costumes and even painted faces.  The old charm of carnival seems to have disappeared somewhat.

Amid all the singing, dancing and the pub crawls there is also the big parade on Monday with enormous, colourful floats made of paper maché.  On Tuesday follows the children's parade.

Besides the attire the colours red-white-yellow are associated with carnival in Oeteldonk the whole city is draped in them.  Statues, houses, flower stalls, everything shows the colours.  Shop windows join in the fun and the wares are adjusted to reflect the carnival celebrations. It's a world gone mad for three days!

While visiting the city recently with Gerrie, my sister-in-law, we walked amidst the preparations for the coming celebrations:

Not visible in the picture, but even the gold dragon statue
 on the pillar is wearing a red-white-yellow shawl

Big windows are removed (damage) and at every pub or café extra room is created
to hold the extra patrons during the celebrations.  It can still be very cold outside...

Town Hall in Oeteldonk colours

Flower stalls join in with the appropriate colour scheme...

More room added to this row of cafés

This 'farmer' is still wearing the old attire

Even statues don't escape the fun of dressing up

There are many more pictures available.  Just google 'carnaval in Oeteldonk' and click on 'images'.

On our walk through the city there were more places that asked for pictures, so here's an impression of a few of the interesting spots we walked past:

A mural in the former red light district

As you can see, water everywhere.  It's all part of the river systems called "De Binnendieze" which are found throughout the entire city, and, after the restoration no longer the smelly waters which we all hated when we grew up.

I hope you enjoyed this impression of my birth place which I hope I haven't visited for the last time yet...

Dry enough for a bike ride, but ~~cold~~

Friday. February 28, 2014

The sun was out, so time to get the push bike out for a ride in the polder.  The idea was to find a few caches on the way to Gemonde, but in all honesty I never got there.  On the bike without a decent road map it is easy to get lost, which was exactly what I did.  I ended up in Schijndel instead.  Never mind, I found my way back eventually and ended up, frozen after a nice 2 hour ride, but.... with a smiley!

Duits Lijntje - Kasteren - 't Groene Woud

Thanks to the clear hint this was an easy find and the log was quickly signed.  Another smiley, but probably one of the last now, or.... I could go on a cache hunt by car tomorrow.  We'll see...