11 May 2019 (Saturday) - Balcombe (and Ardingly Reservoir)

I did get an early night last night, but it wasn’t a good one. Pogo and Treacle lay very close either side of me on the bed which was very constricting and very hot. And when I came back from visiting the loo in the small hours Pogo had something to say about being disturbed. When I finished telling him (in no uncertain terms) who was “the main mumma” and who was “the bi-atch” Fudge came up and wanted to be on the bed too.
I finally dozed off half an hour before the alarm went off.

I took the dogs out for a tiddle, made everyone some brekkie, and as I scoffed it I had a look at the Internet. GSAK was still playing up, which was an issue for those who hunt Tupperware. Looking on-line it would seem to have been a world-wide issue. Fortunately it now seems to be fixed.
The main problem with geocaching as a hobby is that for all that it is a very high-tech hobby, those who run the show don’t seem to be very tech-savvy. Without two or three other I.T. plugins the hobby is incredibly unwieldy, and those at geo-HQ keep fiddling with the software which just renders all the plugins (as well as the stuff with which they are fiddling) unusable.
The obvious answer is to employ some I.T. people who *are* any good.
I also saw a squabble kicking off on Facebook on one of the local groups. People were running down Ashford town centre as being rubbish for shopping. What with the recent closures of Debenhams, Marks and Spencer and the pet shop they might have a point. I’ve not been shopping in the town centre for months. But then… shopping? What is it all about? When I go “shopping” I know what I want to buy and I can either go to one of the larger shops around the outskirts of the town (with its own free car park) or I can order on-line and have it delivered to wherever I want it delivered (usually) in a day or so.
However for some people “shopping” is a way of life. They pay a fiver to park up, then walk for five minutes to a load of shops. They then spend the afternoon randomly buying any old things that the shops might have in stock (and that they don’t actually need or want) despite not actually having had any need to go “shopping” in the first place.

I got our stuff together and got the leads onto the dogs. We went out to the car; I opened the boot and announced “Boot Dogs!” All three hounds immediately jumped into the car’s boot.
We drove to Leybourne where we met Karl, Tracey and Charlotte. Since I had the full wolf-pack it made sense for me to drive us all to today’s adventure. There were seats for humans and a boot for the dogs. After a few hundred yards Fudge and Treacle were in with the humans, and Pogo was sulking.

We broke our journey at Clackett Lane services. You can’t go wrong with McBrekkie. Whilst Karl and Tracey got supplies, Charlotte and I sniggered at the weather forecast. Have you ever used the BBC weather app on your phone while at Clackett Lane’s westbound services? It thinks you are in a place called Titsey. Rather puerile, but it amused us.
As we scoffed our McBrekkie we watched a hawk flying by whilst being mobbed by a crow. The crow was definitely attacking the hawk. I’ve heard of this happening, but only ever seen it once before.

With McBrekkie scoffed we set off to Balcome. It was at this point that Pogo also abandoned the idea of “Boot Dogs”. We got to Balcombe without any dogs in the boot, and the back seat being rather crowded.

We arrived, parked up, and it wasn’t long before we were off on a little wander. Today’s walk was along quiet country lanes and across fields and footpaths. Through woods, and a mile or so walking along the shore of the Ardingly reservoir. I did laugh at a sign at the reservoir. Dogs aren’t allowed to go in the water as the reservoir is a source of drinking water. It is obviously fine for fish and ducks to crap in the water, but dogs can’t swim there. Go figure (!)
We originally planned to walk more of the shore of the reservoir than we did. There was another series of geocaches on the east side that we had planned to include in our walk today. But on looking on the map we saw that they could easily be incorporated into another geo-series which we shall walk in a couple of weeks’ time. And we thought we’d better not walk too far today as the weather was against us.

The weather – it was odd. The forecast had been for “showers”. One moment I was in a T-shirt feeling rather warm; the next we would all be in waterproofs huddling under a tree sheltering from torrential rain. For all that we have had rain before, I think that today may well have been one of the wettest walks we’ve had. Fudge looked like a seal on several occasions.
I took quite a few photos as we walked today. I do that.

We had a minor episode toward the end of the walk. When we stopped to rummage in a hedge (we do that rather a lot) Charlotte noticed that Pogo was worrying his paw. I wondered if he’d hurt it; I had a feel of it, and my hand came away covered in blood. He’d somehow cut his paw somewhere. As I worried about what to do, he wandered off. He’d clearly forgotten that he’d pranged his hoof, and he didn’t worry it again at all. I can’t see anything wrong with it; I wonder what that was all about?

Geocache-wise, today’s was a rather good walk. For all that the caches were mostly rather old ones, we found all of them except one. Ironically the missing one was one of the newest. They were all well maintained, and quite a few were rather large too. There were a couple that had issues; we found one almost (but not quite) in the cow poo. We replaced that one where we thought it should have been (i.e. *not* in the cow poo). Another had the hint “footpath sign”. The footpath sign had snapped off. I found the cache laying on the ground, so we put it back where the sat-nav said it should be, and put the footpath sign on top of it.
There’s no denying that had I put a load of caches along this route I would have put more, and had them closer together, but that’s just me. We had a rather good guided walk today for which I am very grateful.

Once back at the car we insisted on “Boot Dogs” because they were filthy. But the didn’t have to “boot dog” for long. We drove half a mile up the road to a rather good pub. We sat outside for a pint; we sat in the sheltered area and it was rather pleasant until the rain started. The rain chased those smoking all sorts of noxious things into close proximity so we went inside the pub where the dogs barked at pretty much everything that they possibly could.

We piled back into the car, and drove home. As we drove the weather was just like it had been all day. Glorious sunshine giving way to torrential rain; then after five minutes the rain stopping.
We stopped at Leybourne to unload passengers. I wondered if the dogs might like to “unload” as well, but they didn’t. So we came home…

Once home the dogs had a bath, and had their tea. All three were soon snoring. Treacle took a little longer to settle than the others; she was clearly rather over-excited. I then cooked myself a pizza. It was a failure; it was raw. I put it back in the oven for a bit and incinerated it. But I ate the cinders and have learned from my mistake. Next time I will go straight to the KFC.

"er indoors TM" will be home from the hen weekend soon. She’s due home at three o’clock tomorrow morning. I’m looking forward to her return before I starve to death…

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