Thursday, May 21, 2009

Geocaching - part 2

So, back at the flat and preparing lunch/tea/a meal. Note to everyone – geocaching is hunger-inducing.

Out of the blue, Partner suddenly says, 'After we've eaten, why don't we go and get that cache you could never find?'

Truth was, I had made plans to do nothing with the rest of the day in a beautifully idle fashion. I thought I had been out, done a bit of walking, got some fresh air, navigated us around, taken photos – what more does a woman need to do?

Partner never offers to go walking on Sunday afternoon/evening. Chance not to be missed. He was obviously determined to find a cache on his first day of geocaching.

We agreed to eat, walk dog, and then climb up the Rock to find the elusive (to me) Devil's Gap cache. And that is what we did.

Just another Gib view

Spring flowers

Traipsing up the track

When we arrived there, we poked around the canons. There were two lads lying on one of them smoking dope. We said 'Hi' and then waited for them to leave.

Partner sat on some cement structure in a martial arts pose. I faffed around with the GPS unit.

We had done our homework and looked at all the photos and read the entries on the geocaching site. We looked at the spot where it was supposed to be hidden. Definitely not there.

I consulted the all-important GPS and suggested Partner look a few feet away. He did. I continued to look in the spot where it was meant to be.

'FOUND IT!!' came the triumphant shout. He proudly displayed the plastic box and we hurried to open it up and look at the treasure trove. We were so excited that I forgot to log in, so technically he was the only one who had found it. He chucked a couple of coins in, and we didn't take anything. Off we skipped down the hill, like two happy kids.

He was right. He had managed to find it.

Partner with treasure

At the weekend we thought we would tackle Sohail Castle in Fuengirola. Not a chance. We couldn't park, you couldn't take dogs, and it was too hot to leave Pippa in the Landy. We did park up not too far away to eat our sarnies, but decided that there were too many people around for one of us to even attempt a cache.

So in the afternoon, after we'd eaten, I decided another hike up to Devil's Gap was called for so I could add my name to the log book. Not a soul around. I took a plastic frog and will put him in Spain somewhere. Oh, and I finally managed to find it without a GPS. After all, not much point taking it when I knew where to look.

The track

Looking down to the Convent

Looking across to Africa

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Geocaching - part 1

Well, I have a bit of a confession to make here.

For the last two years, I have cheerfully taken the piss out of people who go geocaching. I had to look up what it was first of course, because I had never heard of it. I mean, why would anyone in their right mind go ferreting about in the undergrowth looking for pots of tacky rubbish masquerading as treasure?

To be specific, I have particularly taken the piss out of one of my internet friends who regularly goes caching. As some readers will know, I even set up a fictional blog to write about his really boring anoraky hobby.

I should give him credit, he's never complained about my endless digs and sarcasm. If he has got fed up - he's never told me. Anyway, this blog is not about him (even if the other one was) it's about ME.

There are a handful of caches here on Gibraltar, so last year - or maybe the year before - I decided to see if I could find them, without using a GPS. After all, one of the reasons I thought it was a very silly hobby, is that it involves buying a consumerist techy gadget. I see no reason why people can't stick to maps and compasses.

So I clambered up the Rock to Devil's Gap. On more than one occasion. In the end I stopped looking for the tat treasure and just enjoyed the walk anyway. I wandered down to Europa Point and couldn't find the treasure there either. Lesson No 1. It is easy enough to get to the location but finding the tat treasure is another matter.

Partner said loftily that he bet he could find the treasure at Devil's Gap - but did he ever come with me? No.

Fast forward somewhat. Partner unexpectedly had the weekend off work and although we initially planned on going back to the finca I thought I would suggest something different. So on Saturday we investigated the - limited - choice of GPS units for sale in Gib. I went back to the computer and looked them all up to decide which would be suitable - and vfm of course.

We then went back to the shop and I prevaricated between two models. Eventually the shop guy said I could take the cheaper one, use it over the weekend and if I wasn't happy, I could go back and upgrade on Monday. Seemed a fair deal to me, so we bought a Garmin GPSmap 60Cx. C for coloured screen and x for memory card - for anyone interested.

Trying out the new kit

There are quite a few caches in nearby Spain, so I took down the details, transferred the co-ordinates to the clever new machine, and Sunday's trip was planned.

After a slight delay at the frontier where the Guarda Civil decided that we looked like a suspicious pair in a scruffy vehicle that clearly was hiding a ton of smuggled cigarettes, and they poked around the Land Rover until they decided they weren't going to find anything, we set off towards Algeciras.

It's a pretty straightforward road but my planned getting-to-know-the-GPS time didn't happen as I was also The Navigator. Given that our Spanish map book seems to have disappeared into the ether, and I didn't know what I was doing with the GPS, all we had to go on were my scribbled-down notes.

Well, they were excellent. The directions, I mean, not my scribbled notes, and we arrived at the gates of Parque Centennial without any problems at all. So next - the treasure hunt.

Entrance to the Parque

Being over-ambitious, we were attempting a multi-cache. This is where you go to different stages to get clues for the final location. Well, I think that's what it is.

The weather was glorious, and after going to the first stage, we just wandered round the park and then explored some ruins.

The first stage, a number of rectangular structures

Looking out across the bay towards Gib

Second World War bunker

Some of the older ruins dating back to the early 1800s

The bay at Getares

The clue to the treasure was that it was hidden under a big stone. Or in Spanish, baja la piedra grande which could also be under the big rock. We aimlessly turned over every stone in sight - there were a lot at the ruins. At this point we hadn't got the final location, so we were grasping at straws, or rather rocks.

I decided we needed to be more systematic and off we went to the second stage to get the final clue. Now, I almost had the final co-ordinates. Eventually I worked out I should have put a zero in front of the last set of numbers. We were set. Or we would be if I could work out how to enter a set of co-ordinates.

The second stage - the tower

So, here we were with our known destination, but I couldn't key it in, so couldn't programme the thing to tell us how to get there. I decided the idiot's way to do this was to keep repeatedly checking our location - I could manage that - and moving a few feet in the relevant direction so that we ended up nearer to the desired spot.

Eventually we got there - but could we find the treasure? Of course not. After half an hour of beating about in the undergrowth, poking into crevices, turning over huge boulders, and generally behaving like all those silly idiots who I had previously mocked mercilessly, we gave up. We don't like giving up, and I was convinced we had the right spot.

Plans for retrieving other caches en route dissolved. To fail once was bad enough, but a second failure would be no fun at all. Tarifa and her beautiful beaches beckoned.

Looking across the beach towards the old port entrance at Tarifa

(More Tarifa pix on Just Landy blog)

Part 2 to follow.....

Monday, May 11, 2009

Apple Sauce?

So, thinking I had run out of domestic appliance disasters and bed hunts to write about - I have a new topic.

My darling expensive all-singing, all-dancing cantankerous Hal is no longer co-operating with me.

Hal, for anyone who doesn't know is my Apple laptop. Technically speaking, he is Hal 2, as Hal (1) is an Apple desktop. Very nice and elegant too, is Hal (1). No horrid towers or awful things like that, just a rather nice looking screen and a keyboard.

Anyway, Hal 2 is a top-of-the-range MacBookPro. With a large screen. Well, he was top-of-the-range when I bought him a couple of years ago. Now he has been outpaced and outremembered, so to speak. He also happens to be the most expensive computer I have ever bought in my life.

I carefully put him to bed on Sunday night, and then fell onto my Thermarest.

On Monday morning, I pressed his little start button. Nothing. I pressed it a couple of times for quite a while. Still nothing. Partner impatiently interfered, and generating all his static electricity that he is always charged with, managed to get a noise out of Hal. Whirr, he went pathetically. And then stopped. (Hal, I mean, not Partner). The black screen glared at us.

His sleep light was on. His sleep light should not be on when he is shut down. Nor should it be on when he is meant to be waking up. Perhaps he is like me and needs all the sleep he can get.

Partner went off to work. His last words were: 'Go and buy a new computer - there will be somewhere open today (Bank Hol), there always is.'

With him out of the way, I carefully took out the install disk, inserted it, and followed all the minimal instructions in the book. Of course, without the computer working, one can't get onto the internet to get useful info.

When I pressed varying combinations of the On key plus, a few others, I heard a second lively whirr. The one where Hal usually springs into life. Nope. He faded again. I turned him off, and he emitted a plaintive whimper. I couldn't get the install disk out either.

I went out to buy a new computer.

Now, while I am not the techiest person in the world, I am pretty fast on computers. I Can. Not. Bear. a slow computer. Or something that hangs and crashes. I have no patience with anything that wastes my time in the world of computers.

I looked in the shop and asked about specifications. I basically wanted an inexpensive model, that looked ok, with as much processor power and memory as possible. I didn't need anything fancy. I already have one of those and he is in big-time sulk mode.

I settled on a dual core HP with 3GB of RAM. It's actually a slightly higher spec than Hal. And to be fair, it does seem fast. Even I can't moan. At least I'm not hitting the keys and waiting five minutes for them to appear on screen.

HP - the sauce?

So I'm relearning Windows. Which seems remarkably like Apple but not as sophisticated. Hal has been despatched to the AppleDoc with no idea of how much he will cost or how long it will take.

More on Clouds.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


In my indefatigable quest to continue to write about all things domestic, I have turned today to pillows. (Credit for this inspiration goes to another blogging pal - thanks Letty).

Pillows, of course are linked with beds. But fortunately you do not need a bed to buy pillows. The research, drama - and of course, cost - are not as high with pillows as with beds.

Now, in my bed investigations, I discovered that if you are willing to fork out £1500-£2000 for a Tempur latex mattress (well, half latex, the rest is polyurethane), you get free pillows. One each in fact, if you buy a double mattress.

These pillows cost more than £100 each. Yes, that's right. More than £100 for a pillow. Actually at one point, I used not to use pillows. However I digress. Now I use two, more when I am terribly ill and coughing my guts up all night.

Clearly, two free pillows, are worth more than £200 - so that is a significant 'saving'. Isn't it? Well, it's only a saving if you are going to buy the pillows anyway. And I'm sure the cost of the 'free' pillows has been factored into the cost of the mattresses. I wonder if you can have two hundred quid knocked off the price of the mattress if you don't want the pillows?

Now, for anyone who doesn't know, pillows seem to deteriorate rather quickly in warm humid climates. I have no idea how long latex ones last and I have no intention of paying more than £100 for a pillow to find out.

I have bought various synthetic ones in Spain that were OK but not brill. However the other week, I decided to splash out the princely sum of £15.95 on a (washable) microfibre pillow that 'feels like down.' And - indeed it does. I only bought one of course, for me to try, no point wasting my money on one each if they are rubbish. But it isn't rubbish. It is incredibly comfy, and my little head just sinks into it.

I graciously asked Partner if he wanted one too. He sulkily said he thought he might. I went to another shop I had found that was selling the same pillows for £14.90. Always best to save a quid or two where possible.

It was not there. I began to think I had imagined this shop. I wandered up and down the street where I thought it was about three times. Finally - there it was - the door was open and the loveable pillows were inside. It turned out the shop shut for lunch. For two and a half hours.

There was only one pillow on display, but the helpful woman dragged out her stepladder and climbed up to get me another one from the top shelf. I, of course, need two of these delectable pillows so one was for Partner and the other was so that I could have two delicious pillows.

I parted with my money and happily traipsed home with my 'feels like down' pillows.

I generously allowed Partner to have his and I nestled down with two of them.

A couple of days later, I pointed out to him that the idea of having a delicious soft 'feels like down' pillow is to actually have that one on top. He promptly swapped his pillows round and said, in tones of rapture, how wonderful the new pillow was.

Yes dear. Men are so quaint aren't they? I buy you a wonderful soft new pillow and it takes you a couple of days to put it on top. Ha!