A Treasure-Hunting Pedigree?
Do you, like me, have a long-lived affection for treasure hunts? There must be treasure-hunting in my DNA; or code-breaking perhaps. I recently learned that my grandmother was on the Enigma and Colossus teams at Bletchley Park so that's a (rather cool!) clue for starters.
It was Kit Williams' celebrated Masquerade hare which sealed the deal on my destiny. Dad bought several copies of the book for the family (I still have my copy), and we soon discovered there was more to it than just beautiful, detailed illustrations and became completely absorbed. Like many other families, we passed the summer of 1981 happily puzzling and giggling at our assumed cleverness and worked out that the jewelled hare was buried 'somewhere indicated by the shadow of a statue'. Unfortunately we were way off in our calculations and one day, set off en famille with a shovel in the boot, on a four-hour drive to Somerset. We didn’t find the hare of course, but we did discover a beautiful part of the countryside as we explored the Quantock Hills, a treasure in itself.
A History of Treasure-Seeking
Thereafter followed 'The Cadbury's Creme Egg Conundrum' - remember that? Then 'Treasure' by Dan James, 'Ruby', 'Aureum', 'Planetarium', 'The Merlin Mystery' and most recently The Great Global Treasure Hunt on Google Earth. Now this might surprise you, but each time I learn of a new prize-puzzle treasure hunt my heart doesn't leap with joy, it sinks. I feel glum because I know I won’t be able to help but get utterly obsessed with it for months on end. Picture the scene… 3 a.m. and still researching and chatting online about possible approaches and answers with fellow hunters. No time for other leisure pursuits. Family resigned to weeks of distracted 'Hmmmph?' when I am asked a question... Signs and omens spotted everywhere which tell me I'm on the right track, that the 'treasure' really is on Easter Island, or in the shape of an oak branch, or yes, perhaps even in the Quantock Hills...
Since becoming a parent, I've subtly indoctrinated my children into my hobby too. I used to set paper trails around the house and garden, with little drawings on each slip of paper of 'where to look next' until they arrived at 'the treasure'. Now, they are teenagers and luckily understand the difference between 'let's go for a walk' and 'let's go and do a Trail' and will happily come along. They will even help me with testing and planning Trails for myself and my colleagues. Not sure whether they truly have the gene though. Time will tell!
Some Recommended Treasure Hunt Activities
For those of you who empathise with my affliction, you may be interested to know of The Armchair Treasure Hunt Club, who produce their own hunts (real and armchair varieties). You might also want to know about the London Miglia Quadrato, an all-night 'treasure hunt by torchlight' in cars in the City of London which takes place every year in May (sadly cancelled this year due to pre-Olympics roadworks). Or its sister event, the Londinium Pedo, which takes place on foot on an October Sunday afternoon. Needless to say our City of London Treasure Trails are great practice for these!
Which treasure hunts have had you hooked over the years? Maybe you are a former prize-winner. We'd love to hear!
Author: Kathy Brown, Treasure Trails Greater London.