Another year, another treasure hunt – this time with an unprecedentedly cultural theme (unfamiliar territory for the UL…)
That’s right – this year saw teams of keen-minded bellringers spreading out across central (and greater) London in quest of clues in an impressive range of museums. The treasure hunt pack had the potential to lead us to all corners of London, seeking out the ingeniously devised questions and answers hidden in exhibitions on all manner of subjects.
Quite apart from the effort that went into visiting and dreaming up appropriate questions for all these museums, the treasure hunt organisers had laid on another treat for us – a surprise hidden away in an Amazon locker that only our team could unlock.
I actually missed the opening ceremonies for the treasure hunt this year, as I had been roped into a quarter peal with Kate Wallis and assorted others at Kilburn in the morning. If I remember correctly it was a sweaty sort of quarter, on exceedingly teeny bells, but we scored it and managed to convince Tom Wood (one of the tour organisers) to pass on our team pack.
With our instructions in hand, the team that would come to be known as ‘Team Excessive Packaging’ set off, immediately losing one of our team members when Kate went to drop off her bike. Undeterred, Mariko and I carried on in search of the Wellcome Collection where we found many weird and wonderful things – including I think all the things we were supposed to find!
At this point we lost Mariko, but had found Kate again so Team Excessive Packaging was going strong. We went to The British Museum next, but found that it is literally rammed with people, and also with statues that bear more than a passing resemblance to those referenced on our quiz sheet, and became slightly discouraged.
The organisers knew their audience well, however, and had sneaked a pub into proceedings, which we realised was gratifyingly close to the British Museum! We thought it would be rude to miss up such an opportunity, so went with haste to the Museum Tavern where we recruited an intrigued, but confused, member of staff to do the work for us while we had a G&T. Very good.
I think the next stop on our route was the Museum of Childhood – an exceptionally good museum in Bethnal Green (if you haven’t already been there, it is well worth a visit). We were becoming weary and foot sore by this point, however, and were running out of time so decided to call a halt to proceedings and head back to submit out score sheet.
I will confess that this is where my memory of the treasure hunt becomes hazy, as (surprise!) I started drinking beer the second we hit the meeting-up pub at the end of the day.
What I do remember is that the Oxford team won (I think they had been taking the whole exercise rather more seriously than Team Excessive Packaging). Congrats to those guys – but our prize of a set of kitchen scourers was both practical and attractive, so really everyone was a winner!
Thanks go to the treasure hunt organisers, Tom W, Chris B and Jenny Willis for another great day out in London. Roll on the next year!
By Rosemary Hill