2009-07-31 51 -0
Beckenham Place Park, London
Our first geo hash was a spur of the moment decision and we were, therefore, woefully under-prepared. We left work around 17:30 and took the train from London Bridge to Beckenham Junction; a fairly simple process despite the epic Friday rush hour ticket queues. It was after 18:30 before we boarded the train.
Upon reaching the station we were were very hopeful of a simple stroll to the hash, having looked up the map (http://www.beckenhamplaceparkfriends.org.uk/map.htm) of the public golf course and park crisscrossed with pleasant little walking routes.
We approached the park from the south and took a fairly well-trodden path through the trees. We emerged onto the golf tee and took in the impressive view of the old manor before heading down a smaller, narrow, less-traveled track that seemed to head in the direction of the hash.
At this point GPS signal on both of our devices weakened and we were struggling to get an actual fix but the devices seemed to agree that the neither larger path, the golf tee or the small path came within 20m of the exact hash.
Resigned to the fact that "one does not simply walk into..." the geohash, we clambered over some fallen trees into some fairly dense woodland dominated by smaller saplings, fallen dead trees, holly and brambles.
At this point, I'd like to remind the reader that I had come straight from the office and was not suitably attired; my trainers were slippery and constantly unlacing, my jeans offered fairly little protection from thorns and my light, summer, collared shirt offered absolutely none. Surprisingly my trilby afforded me some protection at eye-level and my man-bag was useful as a battering tool.
Mito was slightly more suitably attired, clothing-wise, but his work shoes also ended up being just as unsuitable as my own when it came to navigating rotting trunks, hidden holes and mossy ground.
We climbed over, under and through some more dense undergrowth in an awkward spiraling route as the excitement of getting sub-10m GPS readings spurred us on. Mito, climbed a ladder-like arrangement of fallen trees, saplings and vines to jump down to a wall of vegetation. Myself being of more... *ahem* "robust stature"... than Mito, I decided to try a route through the ladder-like arrangement; pushing aside one rotten branch and doing the world's least graceful, hat dislodging limbo under another. All that stood between me and the small area of open ground Mito had stopped at was a small, waist-level trunk. I gracefully hopped over this... catching the groin of my jeans on the bramble that entwined it.
In a moment of clarity bought on by the threat to future generations of my family line, I remembered that I had a small selection of electronics tools in my man-bag. I blindly reached back into my bag and felt for a small pair of wire-cutters and used these to snip the bramble away. Thankfully, I escaped with only my legs scratched by the thorns and no other trouser-dwelling casualties.
After this near miss, I stood with Mito and we did the phone signal dance for a while until we got a reliable fix. We were 3.8m away from the exact geohash but decided that this was within acceptable tolerances, considering the impenetrable wall of vegetation that stood before us.
Mito set up the tripod and snapped a few shots of me holding my phone displaying the date and location before jumping the log and joining me for a shot or two of the pair of us.
As we packed up the equipment, we shared a few comments about our first geohashing experience being slightly more effort that we had bargained for and noticed the fading light and the proliferation of bitey-bugs (One of whom buzzed around my head incessantly, sounding about the size of a cat).
By this stage, we had lost our orientation and were trying to save battery life on our slowly dieing phones so we just stumbled on through the easiest route on the assumption that we could only be a maximum of 20m away from one of the paths or the golf course. As the light faded we charged through the vegetation, getting a few more scratches in reward for our impatience and I had a nice experience with a rabbit hole full of leaf mulch.
We emerged from the woodland onto a path and wondered South, discussing how this would be a perfect time for the axe-murderer to jump out at us - this lead on to a discussion about when you'd officially become an axe-murderer rather than just some guy who killed a couple of people with an axe. Prompted by this conversation, I wondered off in front as Mito tied his shoes, promising to "be right back" but even this failed to lure out any hockey-mask-wearing psychopaths.
We were momentarily spooked by a squirrel with the talent to sound like he had the mass and speed of a charging bull (or an axe-murderer... or a clever velociraptor hunting party).
Having escaped confrontation with the monstrous squirrel, we walked out of the park and into the residential streets surrounding the park. Now being expert woodsmen and knowing the area like the back of our hands, we started walking back to the train station.
Ten of fifteen minutes of walking and talking later, we decided to check the map. Other than having been walking in the exact opposite direction, we were making great progress; we made an adjustment to our route (i.e., turned back the way we came) and, eventually, got to the station and trained back towards central London.
| Deadlight & Mito earned the Land geohash achievement