July 27 – Piratemania 11 BBQ (not)

A Drive up from St Albans to Pickering

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Before leaving on our latest adventure we took some photographs of Sue and Peter’s garden as lots of the flowers are out but with this hot weather, there is no telling how they will fare while we were away. We headed off quite early and drove most of the way on the A1 M. Once we turned off onto the M62 we stopped at Howden to get a church micro. What a lovely church Howden Minster is, made of huge stone blocks. It had lots of lovely stained glass windows and a wooden wine glass pulpit with a tester. There was a stone reredos with a room behind the wooden altar. The Saltmarshe Chantry was fantastic with all its tombs, effigies and funerary hatchments. The numbers for the multi were quickly collected and we took the short walk to the find and found the clever cache quickly. We did call in at Riccall as we were driving right through it as we wanted to visit the place that Harold Hardrada landed his fleet of 300 ships before marching his troops to Fulford where he won the Battle of Fulford against the Dukes of Northumberland in September 1066.  However, the village of Riccall is not on the river and we did not have time to walk across the paddocks to get to the river. Maybe the landing place was closer to Selby.

It was our intention to get more than one geocache but we were keen to get to Pickering. We had emailed Sue and Mike that we would arrive at 5 pm and we arrived at two minutes to 5. That was impressive. Sue and Mike met us at the door and welcomed us warmly into their home. Our double bedroom was on the ground floor with our own bathroom with a lovely big walk-in shower which had great pressure. There was also a lounge with a TV for us to chill out in. Sue arranged to make breakfast for us each day at 8.30 which was lovely. They have not lived here long and have done extensive renovations to the kitchen and dining room which was a wonderful big space which opened up onto a good sized garden with a patio behind the house.

After unpacking we drove up to the Dalby Forest so that we would be familiar with the directions tomorrow. There were two ways to get there and after the first night, we realised it was quicker to drive back into Pickering and along to Thornton-le-Dale before turning up the road to Dalby Forest. When we arrived at the entrance to the forest we were a bit confused by the entrance arm across the road and the sign stating that the entrance cost was £9 per day. After driving around the turning circle we decided to drive up to the entrance arm and see what happened and sure enough, it rose to allow us to enter. Actually, it is a very good system where you enter and then pay at one of the six automated kiosks before leaving. The Piratemania people were given a discounted fee which allowed us to enter and leave as often as we wanted.

The park is huge and once inside we must have driven for at least half an hour before we came to the campsite. We never did drive right through but I think you could drive right through and out the other side. The roads were all newly sealed and there were big car parks as well as a visitors centre and cafe. There was also kilometres of bike and walking tracks and a Go Ape Tree Top Centre for an adventure experience.

We knew when we finally reached the Piratemania campsite as there was a sea of flags depicting countries, counties, other Megas and pirate flags which were an impressive sight. We met some familiar faces straight away as we saw John who we have met at all the Mega events we have been to so far checking people in and giving instructions on leaving the park too. We walked around the campsite collecting logging numbers from the cars, caravans and tents. We met Sterling-cache and Curious-lass (Roger and Hilary) from near Crawley who we have met twice recently at a geocaching event and at our exhibition in St Albans. They invited us in to have a nice cup of tea. While chatting to them there was a massive downpour of rain followed by a brief but dramatic thunder and lightning storm. I am not sure about being outside during a lightning storm and a lot of the flag poles were quickly taken down before they attracted a lightning strike.

We bought a Piratemania 11 Mega geocoin which is lovely and had a bacon and sausage bun from the amazing food stall. The people running the food did an amazing job serving food from early in the morning for breakfast until late at night. The first event this evening was supposed to be a BBQ but because of the continual hot weather, no BBQ or any kind of fire was allowed. Anyway, my hat off to the food stall holders and the organisers of Piratemania, they did a great job!

About 9 we drove back to Pickering to the Airbnb and worked on our computers before sleeping soundly in a very comfortable bed.