Saturday, June 24, 2006

English Letterboxing

I'm sure everyone knows that letterboxing started in England, so I was especially interested when offered the chance to teach at the MU London Program campus next fall. Cecile and I will spend September through December on the Sceptred Isle and plan try boxing on the old sod.

Searching the Web produced the email address of one particularly helpful British letterboxer, the Yorkshire Tortoise. My shelled friend responded with several links to clues, but also with the British Code of Ethics for Letterboxing and a translation of the UK names for boxes. I thought you might also enjoy them as both the code especially would be helpful. Some of our common practices here in Missouri don't quite conform with the English code. I would love to hear your comments.

Letterboxing in England
Code of Conduct
Courtesy of The Yorkshire Tortoise

This Code of Conduct is sent out with all cluelists from the UK letterboxing clubs.

1. Digging holes in the ground is illegal, and absolutely FORBIDDEN. No box should be placed in a hole in the ground, and the soil surface should not be disturbed when looking for a box.
2. No box should be placed in any animals earth, set or warren, even if it appears to be disused. (Offenders may be prosecuted)
3. If a box is placed in a hole in a dead tree, make sure that it is not likely to cause harm to rare lichen, moss, insects etc
4. Avoid putting a box on heathland where it may disturb a ground nesting bird
5. All boxes must have a contact address or telephone number
6. Do not place a box in any monument or stone wall, nor any site of historic or archaeological importance
7. Avoid public resort areas
8. Boxes should be as sturdy as possible and an unobtrusive colour, but NOT wrapped in plastic bags or sheeting – Animals eat it!
9. The grouse-shooting season starts on August 12th, and continues until December. If there is any sign of a shoot, or land management in progress, please letterbox in a different area in order to avoid attention being drawn to our activities
10. Respect other people’s property and privacy
11. Do not leave litter (aim to leave a site tidier than you found it)
12. Try not to disturb vegetation or wildlife when planting or looking for boxes
13. Be aware of the security issues of leaving boxes following recent bombings
14. Follow the country code (The country or "countryside code" is and established set of four guidelines: Be safe, leave gates and property as you found them, protect wildlife, control dogs and consider other people. )

We in journalism like to say The United States and the United Kingdom are two countries separated by a common language. Here is how the Yorkshire Tortoise describes our hobby:

Traditional letterboxes - same as with you

Cuckoos - (Not to be confused with your cuckoos which I believe are clues that move). Cuckoos here are like your Hitchhikers. It is a stamp and visitors book that is placed in a traditional box and the finder moves it on to the next letterbox they visit. You may find them more than once but they can only be counted as a find the first time. In most areas they do count towards your total find count - once.

Bonus boxes - a static box but the clue is only found in the back page of the nearest Traditional letterbox. So always check the back of Visitors Books. Count towards your total find count

Wanderers - same as bonus boxes but they can be moved by the owners from time to time. You may find them more than once but they can only be counted as a find the first time. They count towards your total find count - once

Personal Travellers - A stamp and visitors book carried by a Letterboxer. Mostly you just ask if they carry one, they don't often have conditions attached. In most areas count towards your total find count.

Parasites - not quite the same as your Cooties. These are a stamp and visitors book which are stamped into a personal traveller and the PT is stamped into the parasite book. They are not just left on a letterboxer or their belongings but stamped in properly, like a English Cuckoo but planted in personal travellers. You may find them more than once but can only be counted as a find the first time. In most areas they count towards your total find count.

Pub boxes are mainly only found on Dartmoor and do not count towards your total find count. There are a few other indoor boxes but as far as I know they do not count towards your total find count.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Rocking and Crocking

This letterboxing stuff is a crock.

Well, it's in the crock. At least at Columbia's Rockhill park. We have launched the Rocking and Crocking Series -- a set of four letterboxes hidden in small pottery crocks among the crags of one of Columbia's least known parks.

There will be at least one more crock in the series, but we are awaiting the completion of some work by city crews.

This is a special series for us as it is near our home and along trails we walk many evenings. By finding the series, you will discover a large sanctuary teeming with wildlife but practically withing hearing distance of the 9th street bistros. You can walk there from the university with ease.

We ask one small favor of our MidMoLBer friends: This park relies more on volunteers for maintenance than it does from city workers. Please pack along a plastic bag and pick up any litter you see along the trail. Some hikers are not nearly so polite as we are.

Please make sure your carefully reseal both the internal bags and the crocks themselves. Enjoy our neighborhood!


Baby letterboxer

If you have had the pleasure of finding the Saarinen Microletterbox in the Architect's Series, you have seen the work of our daughter, Gillian Grimm. She is half (with husband/architect Will) of "Illia."

Last week they proved that some people have a life outside of letterboxing. Gillian gave birth to
Evelyn Clare Grimm. "Evie" was born at 11:18 p.m. June 12th, 2006 in Portland, OR, where the family now lives. She was about two weeks early but weighed in at 6 pounds 5 ounces.

She's our second grandchild. Briton, Evie's almost-3-year-old brother, has been our letterboxing companion several times.

Maybe a fitting MidMoLBer way of saluting Evie is to find that little box her parent's planted...


Friday, June 16, 2006

Speaking of Re-hideation

One of the Asian ponds at Shelter Gardens has a stone pagoda in it, and while there this past Monday, I noticed what looked like a Ziploc bag stuffed inside the pagoda. As I got closer, I was pretty sure it was a letterbox, and I was excited but a little concerned about the openness of the hiding place. Imagine my surprise when I pulled it out and discovered it was the letterbox I planted in another part of the Gardens some time ago! I brought it home to do some repair work and figure out how it got transplanted. The last few entries in the logbook are hand-written and unsigned...perhaps someone unfamiliar with LBing discovered it and misinterpreted my instructions to "re-hide it well" to mean hiding it somewhere else. It was fortunate that I found it in the pagoda before it went missing...and I've changed my instructions to read "please place the box back in its hiding place."

Thursday, June 15, 2006


How big is Mid Mo Letterboxing??

98 listings in North Eastern Missouri,
97 listings in the rest of the state!

And some of those are our letterboxes too!

Proper Re-Hideation

I've been about checking a few LBs lately and have found several of them missing or only partialy hidden. In the intrest of long Letterbox life, please, when you re-hide a LB make sure that it is not visible by someone passing by. It seems that there is, to some, a feeling that they should be left just a little visible so the next person can find it. This not only puts the LB in danger of dissaperaing, but also takes the 'Ah-Ha!' moment when the person finaly finds it.

I'd also like to mention the replacement of stones. many of us use stones to 'trap' a LB in its hiding spot. That is, they keep critters from dragging them about. So when you find a LB with stones stacked around/on top of it, please take note of them and try to replace them as found. I recently lost Aesop's Fables I because the stone that was crammed into the log was not replaced. I can only assume it was shanghi'd by a nasty varmit which could have been prevent had the stone been replaced.

So PLEASE, after finding a LB, re-hide it as well or better than you found it, completely invisbile to someone walking right over it.



Monday, June 05, 2006

MU Mystery

Sorry to say, but this LB has gone missing. In fact it was in such a rush to get away, not even one local LBer had an opportunity to catch him. Perhaps it will be replaced, so for the time being, I'm leaving this post.
If you're up for a bit of mystery, take a stroll around the University of Missouri, Columbia and see if you can solve this Mystery LB.

Find this parking meter and follow the flow into the far off building.

It should be noted, the white building in the distance, directly behind the parking meter is actually a green house.

Once inside, find this rather unimpressive view. You won't find the red arrow, but it will point you to the LB. Please be utterly discrete on this little jaunt.

Best of luck!