22 Octover 2018 (Monday) - Exploring

When you are on a holiday do you forget to turn of your alarm for Monday morning? With my random pattern of working I set an alarm as and when I need it. I really should have suggested that "er indoors TM" turn hers off last night.
Despite her alarm everyone carried on snoozing. I got up, wrote yesterday’s history and had a look-see at Facebook to see if the world was still turning without me. It was. A friend had got married yesterday; it looked as though all had gone well.

It wasn’t long before everyone was up. We had bacon sarnies all round, and then set off on the day’s business. After yesterday’ rather epic walk we thought a more gentle day would be in order. The New Forest has loads of little car parks from which there are rather pretty walks. So (ably assisted by the geo-map) we thought we’d use these as a way of exploring.

We started off at a little ca park just up the road from where we were staying and had a little stroll round Hawkhill woods where we found the remains of a wartime bomb and ammunition store.
From there we relocated to Minstead where regular readers of this drivel may recall that Fudge and I visited a virtual cache on the grave of Arthur Conan Doyle (and Fudge tiddled on it) on the first of August 2016. At the time I liked the look of the local pub. Once everyone else had done the secret geo-ritual we went to that pub for a spot of lunch. The food and beer in “The Trusty Servant” were excellent. The service was a tad slow but not so slow that I didn’t leave a tip… or try to. I paid by card. The nice man asked if I would like to leave a tip; I said to bung on fifteen per cent. He didn’t bung on anything. Awkward!

We then drove a short distance to Acres Down for a little stroll, and then on to Millyford Bridge where we spent a little while hunting for a Portuguese Fireplace (not to be confused with a Dutch Oven).
By then time was pushing on, so we headed home. On the way back to base we stopped at the car park at Bolderwood Aboretum as we spotted an ice cream van. A whippy with monkey blood went down very well as we looked at the deer and wild pigs.
And as it was on the way home we stopped off for one last cache at Woosons where the dogs paddled in stagnant ditchwater.

Once back at base I fell asleep for an hour. Fortunately I woke in time for dinner. We had a rather good lasagna, and then played Blokus for an hour or so.

You can see photos of our day by clicking here. For all that today was intended to be a restful one, it was a rather tiring one...

21 October 2018 (Sunday) - Cranbourne

I slept reasonably well. Apparently Treacle was off bothering others at half past two this morning. Oh well – it’s all part of “The Great Dog Experience” I expect…
With adventure planned for today I was up and about shortly after five o’clock. It wasn’t long before others were also about. We scoffed brekkie (I say “we”; Fudge had to be hand-fed every morsel) and we were in the cars and on our way long before dawn.

We had a rather good drive out to Cranbourne; as we drove the sun slowly came up and lit up a beautiful misty morning. As we drove we saw the horses doing whatever it is that they do, and we even saw a deer too.
Once in Cranbourne we booted up and set off on a little walk.

The Cranbourne Chase Circular is a series of over ninety geocaches over some sixteen miles which was only a short hop from where we were staying. It was a major factor in our coming to the New Forest and was a rather good walk. With only one dodgy part the route followed well-marked paths and lanes. We saw friendly cows. As the early mist lifted we saw rather spectacular views. There’s no denying that the grass was rather damp, but I should have worn my gaiters. And things did get a bit iffy when Fudge charged off into the distance in pursuit of a pheasant (I eventually captured him some five hundred yards later). We started walking at about eight o’clock and got back to the car just as the sun was setting.

Geocache-wise... I don’t want to be negative but… Quite frankly it is a very old series of caches which has had its day. Having read the “Found It” logs we knew there were going to be problems with the caches. I’d messaged the C.O. before we left to ask if they wanted us to do any maintenance for them, but not had a reply. Are they still active in the noble pursuit of sticking a film pot under a rock? I think not.
We found all of the caches but one. Some of the hides were straight-forward. Some clever. There were a couple of ammo cans on the way which was nice. But if the day had a theme, the theme had to be “randomly drop-kicked into a hedge”.
We replaced several paper logs which over the years have become mush. We replaced a few of the caches which were broken. It was evident that previous relatively recent finders had also had to perform running repairs. It was also evident that the names of recent finders on the paper logs (that were legible) bore no relation to those who had logged the thing on-line. In the blacker reaches of the world of hunting Tupperware there are lists of series of geocaches that you can log on-line with impunity as the C.O.s don’t bother with the game any more. Is this one such circuit?

We deliberately didn’t visit the pub at the half-way point on our way round. I know what I am like. If we were only meant to have “a quick drink” God wouldn’t provide the stuff in great big barrels. One pint so easily becomes two and then three, and by missing the lunchtime pint(s) we managed to find the last cache with seven minutes of daylight left before sunset.
With walk done we found the Cranbourne Inn where a pint of Badger’s Best slipped down rather nicely followed by a pint of Red Rambler.

As we drove back to base through the dark we played a game of “Animal Cricket” which is a far more family-friendly version of “Roadkill Cricket” that the fruits of my loin would play on car journeys.
And once at base I had a shower. Oh, the luxury of a wash and clean pants after walking sixteen miles. More Ringwood beer, some rather good pizza, and a few hands of cards before bed.

Not a bad day at all…

20 October 2018 (Saturday) - Busy Day

I lay awake for some time last night being unable to sleep; all the time with a nagging feeling something was awry. I suddenly had inspiration, activated my CPAP machine, and slept like a log despite a rather vivid dream in which "My Boy TM" had taken up jogging and had jogged down to join us in the New Forest and was insistent that I might jog back with him.
I was woken by the loud crash of one of the dogs falling off of the bed at five o’clock. Minor mayhem ensued, and as they were up I thought they might want to “use the facilities”. Fudge obediently headed to the back door; Treacle shot upstairs and came back looking very pleased with herself having stolen someone’s socks.

As I was up I thought I might as well have a shave. As I finished my scrape Treacle came and showed me the slipper she’d stolen.
I boiled the kettle, and over a cuppa tuned my lap-top into the cottage’s wi-fi. I managed to tell the world about yesterday’s exploits but for some inexplicable reason I was utterly unable to post up a photo album of what had happened yesterday. Odd… I eventually posted it from my phone. I wondered why the lap-top wasn’t having it? The untapped beer-logging app hadn’t worked yesterday either. Eventually I found it all worked if using my mobile data. Presumably the cottage’s wi-fi wasn’t having it.

It wasn’t long before everyone was up and about, and after brekkie (bacon sarnies – oh yes) we set off. Trying very hard not to run over the horses, ponies and cows that were all over the roads (fences are banned in the New Forest) we made our way to one of loads of little parking spots, and we took the dogs for a rather good wander through the forest.
We had a good walk; the dogs had a rather good spuddle. Treacle found a swamp. I’ve never seen mud quite as thick, gloopy and stagnant as that in the swamp she fell in.

We wound the windows of the car down as we then drove to the quaint little village of Burley. I’ve heard good reports of the place; it would be good to go back when all the tourists (like me) have gone somewhere else.
We sat in the beer garden of the Burley Inn and had a couple of pints as the local chickens mocked the dogs. Have you every seen a dog which has been mocked by a chicken? The chickens are harsh, and the dogs take it to heart.

Our next port of call was the Ringwood brewery. I’ve not been there before, but I’ve tried their beer. We chatted with the brewer and came out with a couple of gallons of ale.
Whilst everyone else then did the shopping, Charlotte and I took the dogs for a little stroll.

Once back at base it was dog-scrubbing time.
Oh dear…
In retrospect the dogs had dried. It might have been as well just to brush them down. They both got a serious scrub in the shower (complete with baby shampoo) and once pristine they were both allowed into the garden to shake off. Both ran to the end of the garden and rolled in the dirt that they had been digging earlier. Once "er indoors TM" had laid an egg she washed them again.

A couple of points of Ringwood’s best washed down a rather good curry. And as the dogs snored on the sofa we played “Who’s In The Bag” – a game in which you have to guess the celebrity that someone is describing. An odd game – it *really* hinges on having heard of the celebrities in the first place.
Today was rather good. There are a few photos of the day here.

Bearing in mind tomorrow’s early start, the second glass of port might not have been a wise move…