Sunday, 10 June 2012


Innocently answering a question posed on UK Cache Mag's post about who would be attending a flash mob this afternoon with an "I will", I appear to have been enticed into writing a few words about the event, so I thought I may as well blog about it at the same time...

The "World Wide Flash Mob" has been running since 2007, to begin with a twice yearly event but just once a year since 2010. This was the 9th event. It has grown from a mere 20 events in 2 countries to what appears to be 312 in 31 this year, the UK hosting 24. There were 9940 logs last year, surely this year the 10,000 barrier will be smashed.

The concept is simple, people turn up for a synchronized time, the UK's was 18:00. You get there early and look as inconspicuous as possible (not particularly possible in our case!). At the stroke of 18:00, everyone approaches ground zero, places a named card in a bucket, poses for a picture, has a brief chat and 15 minutes later disperse. Any onlookers are left scratching their head as to what had just happened! 

We planned to attend the event at Kilburn's White Horsenear Thirsk in North Yorkshire

Picking up RebekahMarie73, we made our way the forty miles or so north, through some pretty ominous looking dark clouds. Never mind we said, it looks a lot brighter where we were going. We were even optimistic after driving through a huge flood on the A168 where it looked like the River Swale had burst it's banks. 

We parked up at the Sutton Bank visitor centre, about a mile away from our final destination. There is an earth cache, and a multi that I wanted to try and get on the way there, which along with a  traditional cache virtually where the event was taking place, had given me an idea for a bit later on...

In the time it took for me to put my boots on and get my lad out of the car, some clouds came right in, giving us a lovely mist to walk through. The multi I wanted was very close to the car park and didn't take long at all to solve and grab. As we approached GZ we could see quite a few cars parked, sensibly, in the car park much closer than we were as the rain had really started to come down now. We gave them a knowing nod and a wink as we passed them, grabbing the nearby traditional cache as we were a little early. I didn't know any of the faces, we had come a little way out of our normal patch but Rebekah recognised a couple from a recent event. What is lovely about the geocaching community though is the diversity of the participants and the openness there is with relative strangers.

As the clock turned 18:00, out of the mist appeared Dave of Micky n Dave fame, holding a bucket. He reiterated what we had become a part of and gave us the log book to sign. Up we all queued to scribble our names...

This was followed by the usual geochat, who has seen what, who needs help with which etc but then Dave had a great surprise for us. Somehow, the planets had aligned (or perhaps it was just arranged with the reviewer...) for Dalesman to publish a cache very close by for us all to claim joint FTF on. What a great idea!

Afterwards we all dispersed, back to our cars, bumping back into people doing close by drive bys and a semi planned drink in the local. Well, every good caching day ends in a pub and very nice it was too!

And my plan from earlier? Well, knowing of an easy virtual and a solved but not bagged puzzle on my route home, I finished the day with 6 different cache types (a new record for me) and a First To Find. All in all a cracking day, roll on WWFM X!

(this photo was kindly supplied by "Muggle" Andrew Benson)

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Monday Night Listening Club

It will come as no surprise to those that know me, that I like gigging. A lot. But since my second lad was born, opportunities are far less frequent. To give that some perspective, for the last couple of years, 10 gigs a month was not uncommon. This year I have seen Band of Skulls and got to go to The Great Escape. for which I am very grateful, but that vast reduction is a massive culture change. I know that it has affected my mates too. So what I wanted to replicate, within my own four walls, was the social element of chatting with friends, maybe with a beer and listen to some brilliant music.

And so, with consultation with my good and possibly most affected friend Mark and Rick who is a prolific user of the #nowplaying hashtag, the idea of Monday Night Listening Club was devised, all of us listening to the same album at the same time, Monday night at 10pm UK time.

We went through a whole host of different ideas on how best to simultaneously listen and converse. We knew we wanted to use Spotify, one of the initial rules was that any nominated album had to be on Spotify but how best would we chat? We used the comments box in a Facebook Event and a Google Site and used Twitter, starting tweets with #mnlc and then @mnlclub but are now settled, using a fairly new application available within Spotify called Soundrop

Soundrop allows one of us to control the tracks being played, meaning that we are all listening to the same music at precisely the same time and a dialogue box gives us real time chat too. One of my frustrations using twitter was the delay in comments being shown, Soundrop alleviates that. It has been great to have Johann, one of Soundrop's co-founders join us on a few of the sessions. Sadly one of the frustrations amongst some of the Apple product users is that the app for the iPhone and iPad doesn't seem to be as effective as the desktop product but I am sure that it will catch up.

So now we have the software to play and chat, how do we decide what to listen to? Well, quite simply we take it in turns to chose. We all have reasonably similar listening habits so nobodies tastes have been too offended yet!

Communicating the choice of album has been done using events in the Facebook Group we set up and it also gives us an idea of who will be joining in. Lots of people hate facebook but there are some instances when it is useful, this is one of them. 

We have had up to 8 people listening together, although there has probably been about 15 different people getting involved at different times, possibly when the chosen album matches their taste. 8 is a good number for everyone that wants to be heard to get heard but it would be great to get some more, maybe you would like to join in after reading this.

It is worth pointing out that I haven't invented the wheel here. I found out after setting this up that there is a really well run group, The LP Group that listen once a month after a huge and very well managed voting process. I have enjoyed participating with them since I learned of their existence. I imagine there are several more, I read a tweet from someone in Northern Ireland that do something similar too. 

Some useful links...
Facebook Group
Google Site (although won't always be updated)
@mnlclub on twitter
My Twitter Page

NEXT LISTEN: 5th November 10pm UK time 
Something For The Weekend by Meursault

Previous listens (first is most recent)
World, You Need A Change Of Mind by Kindness
Battle Born by The Killers
Devotion by Jessie Ware
Be Set Free by Langhorne Slim
There's No Leaving Now by The Tallest Man On Earth
Lady's Bridge by Richard Hawley
Good Health by Pretty Girls Make Graves
My Head Is An Animal by Of Monsters And Men
The Vaccines Come Of Age
The Lateness Of The Hour by Alex Clare
The Blue Album by Weezer
Blur By Blur
Twilight As Played By The Twilight Singers
Different Class by Pulp
Up From Below by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Hope Is Important by Idlewild
An Awesome Wave by Alt J
The English Riviera by Metronomy
Cults by Cults
This is PiL by Public Image Ltd
Yukon Blonde by Yukon Blonde
The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night by The Besnard Lakes
Specials by The Specials
Licensed to Ill by The Beastie Boys
Boys and Girls by Alabama Shakes
Point Of Go by Jonquil
The Sebadoh by Sebadoh
The Libertines by The Libertines
Elastica by Elastica
Port Of Morrow by The Shins
Everything Must Go by Manic Street Preachers
Rise Ye Sunken Ships by We Are Augustines
Pablo Honey by Radiohead
Surviving The Quiet by Seafood
Word Gets Around by Stereophonics
Showbiz by Muse
Distraction Pieces by Scroobius Pip
Given To The Wild by The Maccabees
Weathervanes by Freelance Whales
Architect Of This Church by Hope And Social
Young The Giant by Young The Giant
Too Slow by Tom Williams And The Boat
Union by The Boxer Rebellion
Days by Real Estate