It clashes a bit doesn't it?
It is my hand-held GPS and I use it for my new hobby of geocaching. A month or two ago I read this article in The Guardian which left me desperate to find out more.
Geocaching is a world wide treasure hunt. People hide boxes, or caches as they are called - some big, some ridiculously tiny and many in between - then post the co-ordinates of where the cache is hidden on the geocaching website. Anyone who wants to find a cache then goes onto the website, downloads the co-ordinates for where it is hidden onto their GPS and sets off in search of treasure.
Each cache will contain a log book, and sometimes some small pieces of treasure. When you find the cache you sign the log book and then once you get back home, you register your find on the website. If you want you can take a piece of treasure and leave something else in its place.
When I first looked into geocaching I wondered if anyone else in East London knew about it. Turns out I am late to the party. Within 20 miles of my house there are 1,332 caches hidden! There are so many hidden near where I work in the City that I can even go hunting in my lunch hour. Here are pictures from today's hunt, which took a little over 15 minutes in total - from leaving the office to getting back to my desk.
My GPS tells me it is hidden in this un-promising looking side street:
Right by this piece of masonry. Can you see it?
There are so many things I love about this mad new hobby:
- The sheer scale of it. Caches are everywhere. We went down to Lewes to see some friends this weekend, and in the park where we had a picnic lunch, there was a cache. There are even half a dozen hidden within 30 minutes drive of my parents house in darkest middle-of-nowhere rural France.
- The subterfuge involved in finding caches. Its important not to give away a cache location to the non-geocaching public. If you see someone in the street pretending to make a phone call, or dropping their keys suddenly, they are probably surreptitiously retrieving a cache.
- The surprise of discovering what treasure people have left in the cache.
- The way it makes even the most mundane of walks or lunch hour strolls into something more exciting and adventurous.
If you want to give it a go, you may not need to buy yourself a shiny new yellow toy for your handbag (because I know yellow is not everyone's colour). Many mobiles and PDAs have GPS capabilities, and if you have a sat nav kit in your car, you can use that. Some sports watches even have GPS.
So maybe now you want to find out more. Here are some good places to start:
- The geocaching website
- The geocaching flickr group
- This GPS guide book
- Even this crazy geocaching UK shop where you can buy these rather lovely geocaching dog bandanas. If you see a dog wearing one of these, there must be treasure nearby!