2009-08-07 50 -1
Macronencer - I'm hoping to park at the pub and cycle the 2.8m to the hash. The weather forecast is good, and I plan to sit down for a bite to eat at the pub on my way back. If anyone wants to join me, please check with me first, as this is a work day and things can crop up at the last minute in my job, so I'm not guaranteeing my presence at this point!
Update: I am definitely going to be there, though not until some time around 6pm I would imagine. It's Cowes week on the Isle of Wight, so on the way back I might pop down to Calshot to watch the Red Arrows display or the Fireworks, depending on the time! See Cowes week schedule for more info. --macronencer 12:26, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Got off work early so I could get home and prepare. Today I bought a gel saddle cover for the bike, hi-vis windproof jacket and water bottle with bracket. This is getting serious :) Bike stowed safely in the car, I left at 1600.
As I was heading down the M27 I remembered that Friday afternoon is not a good time to travel towards the New Forest. I pulled into some services, and sure enough, Google Traffic on the iPhone yet again proved its value by warning of jams ahead. So I re-routed up the A36. I was so glad I did! It was a beautiful Summer evening and the cross-country route from the A36 Westward was quiet and peaceful. Bliss! I drove through some of the most wonderful scenery England has to offer. When I reached Rockbourne at 1655 it had become even more picturesque than ever. If I saw one more thatched roof I would begin to assume I was in a historical theme park...
My plan was to park in the car park of the Rose and Thistle but I didn't see one (later realized it was just a narrow entrance that I missed) so I turned round and parked in the grounds of the village hall. There were no signs forbidding it. It took me a while to get set up for cycling, as I haven't really found a rhythm yet with the new gear etc. I've ordered a rail mount for the eTrex but it hasn't arrived yet, so I had to keep fishing it out of my shorts pocket which was awkward. However, I managed OK.
The course was mainly up hill, which I took as a good sign for later :) As I reached a sharp right-hand bend I entered Wiltshire, and noticed a small jet plane overhead. It may have been one of the Red Arrows stunt team, who were due to put on a show later, at the last day of Cowes Week, the yachting festival on the Isle of Wight. I already had a plan to go down to Calshott, which is near enough to see either the aerobatics or the fireworks. More on that later.
As I got within a few 100m of the hash, I realised that a harvester and tractor/trailer were working in the field. There was also a barbed wire fence and a raptor hedge. But I didn't really care, I was just glad to be in such a pretty location getting exercise!
Passing the hash once, I turned back. There was a gate into a field on the other side of the road, and opposite that, on the hash side, was a section of fence without much hedge growing over it. I could probably have jumped over it, but it would have been dangerous (and trespassing of course). I walked down the road from the "gap" until I got as close as I could to the hash point (37m). That would be a "close but no cigar" but never mind. I returned to the gap to watch the harvesting for a bit, and while I was there I cleaned up some trash to take off site. People really are dirty scumbags - I think they just throw the stuff out of their cars.
The tractor's trailer was full and it drove off out of the field. The harvester was beginning to disappear in a dip in the land. Part of me wanted to jump over there and then and run to the co-ordinates, but I thought it unwise. Instead, I picked some plant stems and made an XKCD marker.
Just as I was about to go, two people drove up the road on a quad bike and parked opposite the hash field, in the gateway I mentioned earlier. I felt a little awkward, as they walked over to the gap where I was, but they were not looking at me: they were watching a 4x4 drive across the field towards us! It stopped by the gap, and they called out and joked with the driver, ignoring me. Obviously this was an opportunity, and I was not going to let it slip! I politely interrupted, and spoke to the 4x4 driver. This turned out to be a Mr. McLeod (hope I spelled that right) whose family owns the land.
I'm afraid I got into that dreadful long explanation of geohashing that's always a bad idea, but luckily these people were not really interested in what I was doing, as long as I did no harm. I offered them a leaflet but they just laughed good-naturedly. Anyway, the good thing was, Mr. McLeod was generous enough to let me go into the field. Yay! He told me to cycle down to the far end where there was a gate (which I had missed earlier) and walk up the field if I wanted, to get to the right spot. I was very grateful and thanked him profusely!
Lifting the bike over the gate, I climbed over and hid it behind the hedge, then walked over the stubble where the harvester had already done its work. There was about 50m between the hedge and the unharvested crop, so I was sure I would hit the location spot-on. And sure enough, I did!
The harvester was still coming round the bottom of the field, and I didn't want the driver to worry that I might be in the way, so I just took a quick photo of the GPS for the proof, then made my way to the hedge and walked back down to the gate. In my haste, I forgot to get Chuck out of my bag, or take a photo of me actually standing on the spot :( But the location is shown on the GPS photo, and I took others in the vicinity too.
Emptying the loose chaff from my shoes, I got back on the bike and took the easy downhill route back to the car.
I walked round the corner to the pub, and went in and ordered a cup of tea and some food. Who should walk in from the other bar, but Mr. McLeod! He said "Oh that's him, that's the Internet guy!" He had been telling all the regulars at the bar about me, LOL! So I had a quick chat with them. They thought I must be from the "Square Mile" (meaning London) but I said I didn't like London, and explained that I had driven from Southampton that afternoon. I think they thought I was a typical harmless loony English eccentric, and then they left me alone!
So I sat outside in the beautiful deepening glow of the evening sun, drank my tea, then was brought a fantastic meal. I will definitely eat at this pub again if the opportunity arises, as the food was fit for a king! Not a bad price either, considering the quality.
At 1943 I left and drove to Calshott to see the Cowes firework display. There were thousands of people there, and hundreds of cars! I couldn't find a place to park, so I turned back and parked out of town, then got my bike out and put lights on it (lucky I brought them!) and cycled to the beach instead. There was an amazing atmosphere, with fires burning all along the beach, barbecues, music, drinking, kids skimming stones on the sea, fire lanterns being launched into the sky, the low red full moon casting an amber path over the glittering waves, and even some fireworks being let off on our side of the Solent (which I tried to photograph).
The actual Cowes fireworks began around 2130 and lasted about 15 to 20 minutes. They were fairly small to look at, but impressive anyway. We could just about hear the sound from where we were. As soon as it was over, I had my bike ready to beat the crowds, and cycled off. Of course, the cars started streaming past me long before I reached my car, but it was OK. I drove home, amazed at the best Friday I have had for a very long time. I am so glad I did this, and I don't care about the cost (but with petrol at about 1GPB per litre, I had probably better stop doing it so often or I'll be broke. I drove 90 miles (144km) today).
A bit of a long report, I'm afraid, but so much happened that I just wanted to write it all down. I truly had an adventure today, and I'm not looking back now. Wait until I get my boat!
Photos to follow soon, keep watching this page!
| Macronencer earned the Ambassador achievement
| Macronencer earned the GeoTrash Geohash Achievement