IN the 1980s, the 1990s and the early part of the 21st century my wife Jacqui and I worked for the software development department of Reuters in the City of London. Although we worked hard we, like most other people working at Reuters at the time, found time for some fun as well.
Once or twice every year for just about all the time we worked there we organised or participated in treasure hunts. All of the treasure hunts were on foot around pubs in various parts of central London. Most times there were well over 100 people taking part in each hunt in teams of 5-6 people. They had to visit 6-8 pubs in one evening. In most of the hunts there were clues that you had to solve before you could enter each pub. Then there was a quiz or task to complete in the pub, after having purchased a drink at the pub of course. People paid an entry fee to take part plus additional money was collected throughout the evening with all of the money going to a nominated charity.
The themes varied a great deal. I can remember themes including the Olympics, school days, cowboys, snakes and ladders, snooker, the Crystal Maze TV show (where when people were ´locked in´ team members had to wander the streets from one pub to the next wearing handcuffs) and many more.
One of the strangest I remember was organised by a friend called Miles Whitehead (nee Hoare) who used to work for a software house in London called Logica. Miles was an accomplished mathematician. The theme of one of his treasure hunts was a three-dimensional game of chess played using only knight moves on a chess board mapped over a torus (doughnut shape). When you started the hunt your team was allocated to one of 16 pubs. Each pub was mapped on to the top, bottom, inside or outside of the torus. There were four pubs on the top, four on the bottom, four on the inside and four on the outside. The aim of the hunt was to navigate around the 3D doughnut shaped chess board using knight moves until you reached the opposite part of the board from where you started. For example if you started on the right part of the doughnut chessboard on the top then you had to finish on the left side at the bottom. Nobody taking part in the hunt knew this was the aim and had to guess this fact. To help them, in each bar the teams were given an object once they had completed their task or quiz and were moving on to the next pub. The items were doughnuts, polo mints and many other objects that were all shaped like a torus.
Some time after we moved to Almerimar we decided that we would organise annual treasure hunts in the town. So far we have used cats and dogs, snooker and cowboys as the themes. For 2011 we have decided to recycle the idea of a school days based treasure hunt. The charity we have chosen this year is a children’s hospice near Manchester called Francis House. This is because there is a long history of golf and other events being organised in Almerimar in aid of this charity.