Basic Guide to: Geocaching

Geocaching is something that I was introduced to about a year ago and even though it has been around for years, a lot of people still don’t know about it.  I regularly go geocaching with my boyfriend, James and now that the weather is getting a bit better, we plan to go a lot more 🙂

 

What is Geocaching?   

Geocaching is almost like a huge treasure hunt that anyone around the world can join in with.  Users hide ‘caches’ and then log the coordinates of said cache on an app, ready for other users to find.

Caches can be in the form of anything from a large container, to a tiny little magnet and are hidden in places where you would least expect to find them.  In fact, you have probably walked past a geocache, many times before without realising it is even there!  Some of the larger caches contain little gifts and prizes which you can take, providing you replace it with something of an equivalent value.

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A typical geocache

All that you need to do to find a geocache is download the app on your phone and do a search of the area that you’re in.  Once you find one you want to look for, click on it and you will be given a clue and how many meters away you are.  When you have found it, you need to sign the log within the cache and also mark it off on the app.  This lets you keep track of how many you have found and also any you couldn’t find, should you want to try looking for it again in the future.

It sounds easy but some of the hiding places are extremely clever and there have been a few times that we have given up out of frustration!

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Hidden in the most unlikely of places!

 

Things you should know before you start

There are two different versions of the app:  a free version and a paid for version (If I remember rightly, this cost around £7).

The paid version seems to have less geocaches listed on it (which seems strange as you are paying for it), but it does give you the option of making ‘offline lists’ which are great if you know you will be going somewhere with limited 3G or internet.

The Free version allows you to look at a larger map area and seems to be updated a lot more frequently than the paid version.

We use a mixture of both apps, but if it’s your first time geocaching, you could create an account online and then use the free app to see if you like it first before paying.

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The green dots show where you can find a geocache (on the free version of the app)

What you will need to go geocaching

There isn’t much that you do need, but the following are advised:

A phone- So that you can use the app to locate the caches

A pen– for signing the caches when you find them!

Suitable footwear– Geocaches are often hidden in woodland and grass which is often muddy.  (I learnt this the hard way after accidentally standing in ankle-deep mud whilst wearing my suede pumps!)

Once you have these, you’re ready to start geocaching!

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A typical geocache

The great thing about geocaching is that you can make a day of it, or you can spend a spare ten minutes searching for a nearby cache.  It is suitable for all ages and it is great for exploring areas that you wouldn’t necessarily go to.  I especially love that a lot of caches contain information and local history about the nearby area, so you often learn something at the same time!

There is a huge geocaching community out there and I have even seen meet-up events advertised, although I haven’t been to one of these yet, but hope to go in the future.  There are over 2 million geocaches across the world, so you are more or less guaranteed to find one in almost every country in the world.

Give it a go if you haven’t already, but I will warn you, it is very addictive and you will be forever checking your phone to see if there are any caches nearby! 

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Signing the cache’s log

 

 

How a Magazine Can Change a Life

Last week's Big Issue
Last week’s Big Issue

The other day whilst I was doing some temp work for a local homeless charity, I read a copy of The Big Issue for the first time.

Of course like most people who frequent any city centre in the UK, I have been asked countless times if I wanted to buy a copy and I have always ashamedly avoided eye contact, uttered ‘no thank you’ and carried on going about my day.  I’ve always thought that the magazine wouldn’t interest me and to be truthful, my ignorance made me think that it would perhaps be a waste of money.

But that is until I discovered what a difference that magazine can make to somebody who is facing life on the streets.

The company uses the slogan ‘working not begging’ and it is true.  It is explained inside the magazine that vendors purchase the weekly copies at the cost of £1.25 from The Big Issue and they then sell it on to members of the public for £2.50. This gives many people the opportunity of employment and the chance to turn their lives around.

The manifesto of the magazine
The manifesto of the magazine

Many of the people who sell The Big Issue have lost everything- their jobs, their families and their homes, often through no fault of their own.   By providing someone in this situation with a job, rather than a hand-out, you are giving them the responsibility and pride that comes with earning your own money.

Not only are you helping somebody by buying a copy, but in my opinion it is actually a pretty good magazine.  It features articles and interviews from household names and celebrity faces, along with reviews of the latest films and entertainment.  The articles are varied and thought-provoking, a welcome change from some of the fashion and celebrity gossip magazines that I usually find myself reading.

An example of the articles in the magazine
An example of the articles in the magazine

Now that I know the difference that this magazine can make to an individual, I have vowed to not turn the other cheek and to buy a copy each time that I am in town.   Knowing that for the price of a coffee, you can make a whole lot of difference for somebody who is facing a life on the streets makes it worth every penny.

Did you buy The Big Issue?  Leave a comment below!

A Peek at Shabby Chic

Anyone who knows me well may tell you that I am a nosy person… and I love seeing where people live… and I love seeing how people decorate their houses…  So imagine how excited I was when I discovered that there are whole Instagram pages dedicated to exactly this!

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An example of the type of home decor pages you can find on Instagram

I know that you have always been able to look in interior magazines to see this sort of thing, but they tend to normally feature grand and expensively styled homes which most of us can only dream of.  What Instagram has done is given ordinary people the opportunity to show off what they have done to their more modest homes, which in most cases are more realistic and relatable to the average person.

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Pages like shabby_chichomes on instagram are a homage to all things shabby chic

For a while now I have been a big fan of all things shabby chic and this latest Instagram discovery has only added fuel to the fire.  I love being able to see how people have put a stamp on their homes by bringing different colours, flowery prints and vintage-looking knick-knacks  together to create the much coveted,distressed look.

From the amount of Instagram pages dedicated to the style, it would seem that it is more popular than ever, but why is this?

Perhaps it is because it can be achieved on any budget.

Quirky trinkets and vintage fabrics can be picked up cheaply in car boot sales and charity shops and furniture can be picked up for next to nothing on online selling pages and in local recycling schemes.  With a bit of TLC and a lick of chalk-paint, you can achieve a piece of furniture which wouldn’t look out of place in a Laura Ashley catalogue.  It is all about mixing the old with the new.

Mixing old with new
A mix of old and new

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Old photographs and postcards in different frames add to the look

But for those with a higher budget or those  who perhaps prefer to buy new, it is now easy to buy vintage-esque items on the high-street. Many of the materials are remakes and copies of original antique designs and several shops have cottoned on to the craze for new-looking-like-old and have brought out home ranges of vintage feel products. Wilkinsons did a great line of 1950s inspired kitchenware last year which included retro-style microwaves and old-fashioned weighing scales in pretty pastel colours. If you look around many other high street shops too, you will see that they are doing the same.

Retro-inspired weighing scales, Wilko, £4
1950s inspired microwave- Wilko, £70
Ashley Thomas at Debenhams

Another reason for shabby-chic’s popularity could be down to the fact that it works well in a room of any size. It could be difficult to pull off the minimalistic look in a small room, however as shabby-chic is reminiscent of small, cosy cottages anyway, it doesn’t matter if space isn’t on your side.  Anything goes in this style.

How to achieve the look:

Pretty Patterns

Think clashing floral patterns mixed in with spots, stripes and different textures

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Layers of different patterns and textures

Pastel colours

whites with creams, pinks, peppermint, duck egg blue, yellows.  Some people prefer to add splashes of bolder colours too

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Coloured bunting add colour to a room

Distressed furniture

can be modified using chalk paint for a dull, rustic effect, or a glossy paint for a shine effect.

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A lick of paint can give furniture a new lease of life

What is your favourite style of decor?  Why do you think shabby-chic is so popular?  Leave a comment below!

xxx