2009-10-11 51 -0

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Sun 11 Oct 2009 in 51,-0:
51.0091162, -0.7777181

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[edit] Location

Looks like heathland, near Midhurst.

[edit] Participants

Macronencer

[edit] Plans

Macronencer is planning this as a drive, arriving around 4pm (weather looks less wet at that time, by current reports). Anyone who can get a train to Petersfield around that time is welcome to a lift!

Hmmm... this Buddhist monastery is just down the road. They allow visitors. I've not visited one before, so I might look into that. This would necessitate an earlier start. --macronencer 18:55, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

[edit] Expedition

I had a lot to do today and ended up leaving later than planned. I thought I would therefore get the hash done, then go and find the monastery afterwards. They take visitors at 5pm and have tea with them, which sounded nice.

The first part of the journey was on motorways and major roads, so it was quite a shock when I suddenly found myself driving down the most incredible narrow lanes I had ever seen! The roads around this hash point have to be seen to be believed. We're talking about roads where 20mph in the wet would have been reckless, and 10mph was more like it most of the time. And this went on for miles. Sharp blind bends, high hedges and trees each side so there was nowhere to come off the road except the occasional passing place, sudden hills, hairpin junctions - you name it, it was there. I could imagine horses and carts using this road in the 1920s, and that it might be pretty much unchanged since then. It was like being in a surreal dream.

I had some trouble finding the parking place because I'd failed to notice on the map that it was down a no through road, so when the TomTom told me to take it I saw the sign and assumed it was wrong, so kept going. 3 miles later, when TomTom was still insisting I turn around, I got it! The camp site was closed, and I had hoped to ask permission to park there, so instead I parked on the road under some trees. The hash point was only 500m away, so I set off on foot, pausing to examine an amazing old wall that an oak tree had burst over the years (or centuries?!). This place is OLD.

Luckily the hash point was down a public path, so there was no trepidation about private property. The path became rather narrow and overgrown, and I was glad I'd had the foresight to don my boots at the car. Finally the eTrex said 90 Left, and I turned to see a wooded area with big logs stacked up in front. It was easy to get in, and I managed to find a 1m reading fairly quickly. Looked around for a stone to carve XKCD in the logs, but only a crumbly piece of sandstone was in evidence, which didn't really do a fantastic job!

As I returned up the path, the sun cast a golden glow on the pasture to my left. There was still the smell of rain in the air, and the ancient splendour of the place started to move me. These things are so hard to explain in words, but you'll have to take my word for it - being there was really special.

I arrived back at the car and noticed a text from Sermoa asking whether I'd been to the Buddhist monastery yet. I drove there at top speed, which was about 18mph. Unfortunately, I had not prepared sufficiently to be able to find the place. I drove past the location a couple of times, then decided to stop and walk for a bit as I might have missed the sign. I ended up taking a pleasant walk, making friends with a cat, admiring an amazing topiary hedge and an old car, but couldn't find the monastery at all. Later I realised that I'd forgotten to actually read the directions on the web page. The entrance was down a different road, and must have been on the other side of the grounds. I want to go back one day and drop in on them for a chat. I like educating myself about people's beliefs and lifestyles, and I think the best way is by talking to real people.

On the way home, the sun continued to put on a show. There was a clear sky except for some low and thick cumulonimbus in the west, and one small bubble of cloud seemed to stay exactly over the sun for a long time, giving it a bright yellow edge that glowed like a halo. I tried in vain to photograph it. There was nowhere convenient to stop. But I got one photo of the general kind of sky I was seeing, so you can imagine the halo cloud for yourself - it's like radio: the pictures are better in your head :)

I've done quite a few group geohashes recently, and in a way it was kind of nice to do one solo. I love the company of others, but I'm fine alone too, and it's an opportunity for quiet contemplation in a new setting. Absorb the moment, and all that. Plus a little bit of tree-hugging. Nothing wrong with that from time to time - I'll be back at work writing Java tomorrow, so that will bring me down to Earth...

[edit] Photos