Tag Archives: Eversley

Another Geocaching Convert?

Found It!

You know those moments when someone thinks they’re telling you about some really great secret, but you, and a load of other people already know? Various of us at St James had that experience this morning listening to Rev Richard’s sermon.

On his day off, he and Penny his wife had headed off to the Bramshill Plantation, a large area of Forestry Commission land just over the border into Hampshire on the other side of Eversley. They went walking off into the forest, Rev Richard armed with a map and compass, and managed to get them thoroughly lost.

Luckily for them, they met someone else walking through the forest, and asked him if he knew where they were, he pulled out a handheld GPS unit – something Rev Richard hadn’t seen – and read off the co-ordinates. They then got talking about precisely why this man was wandering around the forest, and he said he was a Geocacher, and that he’d just done one of the caches that are hidden in the plantation.

At this point in telling the story, Rev Richard asked whether anybody knew about Geocaching, and I guess was slightly surprised at the people who knew. The reason of course that a lot of people around the Church know becomes clear when you watch our Geocaching video in which our segment is filmed around St James. Various people know about the game having seen us on the programme when it was originally shown, and various others, generally those involved with grounds maintenance know about the game having inadvertently found the cache – indeed the cache has moved twice following occasions when the regular maintenance rendered the previous location unsuitable. The interesting thing is that despite having been here several years, nobody had actually told Rev Richard about the cache. Not surprising really as it’s not usually the kind of thing that comes up in conversation…

Anyway, Rev Richard carried on, telling how the Geocacher had taken him back to the cache he had just found, and the story was used as an analogy – searching for treasure with the Christian search for ‘treasure’.

St Swithun's Nately Scures

After the service I told Richard quite how close he’s been to a geocache (our Queens Oak cache mentioned in the film) for the past few years, indeed the fact he’s walked past it every day. I also mentioned myself and Beth’s involvement, including us being one of the seven founder teams behind the Geocaching Association of Great Britain, and have since sent him the link to the video. I’ve also taken the opportunity to upload some of the older Geocaching snapshots I have on iPhoto – these ones are from back in 2003, including some shots of the preserved planes a Lasham Aerodrome which figure as clues in a cache, and another church with a cache close by, the almost totally unaltered St Swithun’s Nately Scures, which gives you an idea of what St James must once have looked like before the subsequent generations started knocking through bigger windows and adding bits.

So I guess the question is, has Rev Richard now got the Geocaching bug?

Why is this Closed Overnight?

Heading down towards my favourite set of roadworks, the A327 closure in Eversley, when I got to the point where the Road Closed sign usually sits, I found that the sign and the barriers had been cleared to one side, as they had been last weekend. The five cars in front of me all went through, so I followed. The road was in much the same state as it was last weekend, with a new smooth surface, but no lines, and with cones and obvious signs of ongoing work on the footpaths on each side, but no workmen, and no work vehicles. There was also traffic coming the other way, including a lorry. The only hazard in the road was a cone over a manhole cover, aside from that there were two clear car widths through the whole of Eversley, aside from going round the road closed barriers. When we reached the other end it transpired that it wasn’t actually open, as the two sets of barriers on the other side were in place, so I assume that some frustrated motorist had cleared the barriers out of the way.

Eversley Roadworks

Anyway, coming back tonight, rather than the long back route I took last night to avoid both these roadworks, and the water works in Finchampstead, I headed straight for Eversley. Again, the barriers were across the road, but two clear car widths through the entire roadworks, with just cones along the footpaths. Again, I wasn’t the only person going through, however the traffic was quiet enough that I could pull over and take a picture. I could have stopped anywhere through the works and taken a similar shot.

Bear in mind looking at this picture that these roadworks were advertised as being 24 hours a day – which they evidently aren’t (and couldn’t be because of all the residents along the road). They are also causing daily chaos around the area, with residents in Finchampstead being particularly hard hit by queuing traffic in some places, and rat running drivers in others, the problem being especially bad at rush hour. However at these times, nobody is working on the works here, indeed the road surface itself was finished more than a week ago. To be honest I’m left wondering quite what Hampshire County Council are playing at. This week part of the M25 was resurfaced and reopened in under 24 hours after a lorry exploded and damaged the surface, and yet they are closing this, and other major roads around the area for six weeks at a time… Surely it is possible to open the road outside the times that the workers are actually at work, such as evenings and weekends, and at least give the people in Finchampstead a break? Or maybe as all the chaos is in Finchampstead, in Wokingham district, they really couldn’t care two hoots?

Incidentally, when I reached the spot tonight where the barriers had been moved this morning, the old barriers had been replaced with some much more substantial blocks, in an attempt to stop a repeat performance I guess.

Traffic Chaos Gets Worse

Things got a whole load worse this week with the closure of the A327 that I blogged about last week. Whilst we had a nice break over the Bank Holiday, with the road being reopened from late Friday afternoon until Tuesday morning, the barriers were back up on Tuesday night. However another of the badly timed local roadworks made it’s presence felt today, with three way traffic lights in the middle of Finchampstead for water main renewal – Finchampstead being the unofficial way most people have been going rather than the official diversion which goes via Reading and Hook. (As an aside, it is worth noting that the New Mill has officially published directions to it’s customers telling them to ignore the diversions and come through Finchampstead – is anyone actually following the official diversion?)

Interestingly, Finchampstead Parish Council spotted that there may be a problem and have the following statement on their site:

From Tuesday 2nd August, the 12 and 15 inch water main through Finchampstead will be relined by SE Water’s contractors Pipeway, … this task will take 5-6 weeks. Inevitably, temporary traffic lights will be in use at times.

To compound the potential traffic disruption, from Monday 15 August the A327 at Eversley Street (southwards from Bluebeckers), is to be completely closed (by Hampshire County Council) for up to 8 weeks to allow for major road repairs. Although some HGV traffic will be diverted, we can expect significant volumes of extra traffic to use Fleet Hill/The Village and also Longwater Road (and hence other Finchampstead routes), in their attempts to find alternative routes past the closure. This closure will be featured on TV news programs to alert drivers.

Clearly, there will be 4 weeks where these works overlap. WDC will closely monitor the situation.

For those who are wondering, WDC is Wokingham District Council, and from previous experience when complaining about badly timed roadworks, will take the tough luck, can’t be that bad attitude, when of course the staff involved, as with those at Hampshire County Council who planned the A327 closure, don’t actually have to sit in the road works every day.

Of course as anybody with children will know, the real problems will start next week, when with the two sets of road works in full swing, all the schools go back, so in addition to the extra school run traffic there will be a number of school buses, and parents parking dropping their kids outside Finchampstead School on the route that everybody is taking anyway. Quite frankly it will be absolute chaos, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an accident somewhere in Finchampstead as a result.

If anyone feels the need to complain about this chaos, the two people responsible for the A327 are James Holt and Martin Milner of the Hampshire County Council Highways office, whose phone number is 01256 764444, and e-mail (thanks to Swallowfield Parish council) is [email protected]. Whilst, as I’ve said, I fully accept that these things need to be done, it surely doesn’t take much to realise that if you close a major road, you should minimise any other disruption in the area.

Travel Chaos

Longwater Lane Gridlock 1

Why is it that local councils seem unable to communicate with each other? In particular over roadworks.

Before we went on holiday, we had seen signs warning that the A327, that runs through Arborfield and Eversley, would be closed for “up to six weeks” from 15th August. Whilst it was quite good that they were doing it when it would be quiet over the summer (aside from the last two weeks when the schools are back of course), it would still be fairly chaotic.

Anyway, I took a look at the weekend, and established that the official diversion route was on large roads suitable for the traffic, and went massively out of my way, but that it would be easier to go round back roads either through Finchampstead, or Swallowfield. This morning I went through Finchampstead, and it didn’t take much longer than usual.

Longwater Lane Gridlock 2

Tonight, all was going well until I turned into Longwater Lane, the road between Eversley Cross, and Finchampstead, to be greeted by the first picture. The second is half a mile further on, crossing the border into Berkshire. It was absolute chaos, with traffic queuing back towards California Crossroads, along through Finchampstead Village, and even round residential side streets. People were even resorting to using single track back lanes to get through.

Listening to the radio I found out that it wasn’t just caused by the closure of the A327. In addition, it seems there were roadworks on the diversion route too. On top of that, one of the other possible routes was also closed, and there had been an accident in Bracknell. As a result most of the roads to the south of Reading were jammed. Each closure was the responsibility of a different local council. I would have thought that anyone with any sense would have realised the chaos caused by the closure of one main road on the border of several council areas and consulted so as not to close any others whilst the work was taking place…