With the rapid increase in smartphone ownership and gadgets in general, new high-tech pastimes are giving more traditional hobbies such as golf, bird watching and philately a run for their money.
Heard of geocaching? If you haven't, you soon will. Geocaching could be described as a modern day version of the treasure hunt. The activity adds an extra dimension to your trip to the park, or anywhere for that matter.
It involves the hiding of objects (caches) outdoors for others to find, using GPS (global positioning system) devices and clues. There are plenty of GPS apps available for smartphones – some specifically tailored for geocaching.
The treasure usually consists of a few knick-knacks. These are placed in a weatherproof container, together with a logbook. The person hiding the treasure puts its GPS coordinates on the geocaching website, together with more detailed information about the general area.
If you're a seeker, you can use your GPS device to find the rough location of the treasure – but then you'll have to search nooks and crannies to find its exact spot. Once you've found it, you fill in the logbook, and replace the knick-knacks with some of your own, and then, if you like, tell of your experiences when you're next on the geocaching website.
Geocaching is proving to be a real motivator to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Sofa-loafers across London are switching off the TV - even logging off the pc! - and going out in search of treasure.
Recent statistics show that there are over a million active caches out there waiting to be discovered, and about four million geocachers worldwide. In the last 30 days, more than four million new logs have been submitted.
The official geocaching website has all the information you need to get you started on your first treasure hunt.
London has a ton of treasure waiting to be found. The page for each cache gives varying amounts of information – there might only be the GPS coordinates; there could be a cryptic clue about its specific location; and often there's a description of the wider area.
Believe me, when you begin reading about a particular cache and its location, you start to get curious. It makes visiting a new area more fun, adding an extra sense of purpose to a trip.
Become a geocacher and become part of a community. Geocachers have get-togethers to help keep their local area tidy as part of an ongoing environmental initiative called Cache In Trash Out, so keep an eye on the official website for details about this and a lot more.