TREASURE HUNT - Sunday 10 September

by Simon Pegg

The story of The Latecomers
(aka Mark, Jo, Leigh, Angie, Kath & me).

After having studied the map for some time the six of us eventually decided on our route to get from our home in the Ribble Valley to Little Bollington and the start of the Treasure Hunt. We were a little worried as the directions to get there included a map reference and we didn't want to look stupid by not even being able to find the starting point. However, we brightened considerably when we realised that we were to start from a pub car park. This was OK as a number of us are expert at finding our way to pubs. If things carried on like this, the treasure hunt was going to be a piece of cake.

45 minutes later, we were sat in a horrendous tailback on the M6 in the pouring rain, wondering why we hadn't just stayed in bed. Undaunted, we phoned Brenda and left her a message, instructing her to wait at the start as we would be arriving late. We're made of pretty stern stuff us Northerners. We finally arrived at the pub 30 minutes late, got our boots on, picked up our instructions and set off on a beautiful late summers morning. I think it rains more up north.

Reading through the directions, there was an audible sigh of relief. They were all written in English. Not a map reference in sight. This was going to be easy!!!! We had various items to collect and as we went through the list, we realised that we could at least identify all the items. Within 20 minutes, we had a substantial collection of bits of flora gathered from the roadside. Unfortunately, I had also managed to collect a dog t**d (not on the list, well not this year anyway!!) which had attached itself to the bottom of my boot as I traipsed through the verges in pursuit of collectibles. I wasn't amused and spent the rest of the walk dragging my left boot through as much long grass as was to be found in an attempt to dislodge my unwanted friend.

Anyway, we made decent progress and after a while we were startled to see one of our fellow Treasure Hunters coming towards us. He introduced himself as Ian and told us he was going back to find some clues that he believed he had passed. Great, we won't finish last after all. We did enquire which clues he was stuck on and then, in the true spirit of comradeship, we all looked suitably puzzled, shrugged our shoulders in unison and smugly walked on, gloating as we went. Sorry Ian, but we take these things deadly seriously up north. All is fair in love and war, and this was war!!

At Dunham Massey house we all stopped for an ice cream and toilet break and met up with Noel and family, only to find that we were still some way behind everybody else. Apart from Ian. As a result we decided on more haste and less speed until we got to our next clue. This was, "Which Treaty is buried near the lions tail?" However, the only items we could find buried near a lion's tail were an electrical cable, a Telecom cable and a water pipe. We spent valuable time arguing about the various merits of "The Treaty of Telecom" compared to "The Water Pipe Treaty", but in the end we plumped for the "EC Treaty". Jo and I thought that this was just ludicrous and protested long and loud, but in the end we got told to shut up and get a move on. Charming!

In the village of Little Bollington, we then became totally confused. We managed to walk past at least six clues without spotting any of them and were forced to turn back. As we were back-pedalling, horror of horrors, Ian managed to overtake us again looking well pleased with himself. However, some of the clues given in the village were very tough. (It's not University Challenge Brenda!!) For example, "Where might Janus feel at home?". I have to tell you that I am now in possession of the answer and am still none the wiser. (Who is Janus anyway Brenda?). It's amazing how the peace and tranquillity of a lovely Cheshire village can be totally ruined by six louts from Blackburn trekking up the main street cursing and swearing. Still, it made a change for the locals.

After that, the clues seemed to get a little easier and we made some great progress. Hunger was starting to become the main motivator and we had visions of the ski club members eating all the grub and drinking all the beer before we got back to the pub. Especially if they were as hungry as we were feeling. Consequently, we got back sharpish, neck and neck with Ian, and treated ourselves to a superb lunch in the beer garden. Fantastic. Bryce's dog came up to say hello and went to sniff my left boot. There was a trace of recognition in his eyes leading me to suspect some form of sabotage had been rigged.

Anyway, we handed our answer sheet in to John and Brenda and then waited with baited breath to hear the outcome. I was just taking a swig of my beer and nearly spilled a drop when Brenda suddenly announced that we had won. (For those of you who don't know, the lout in the white vest who stood up and cheered in the manner of a football hooligan was Leigh). We were just feeling pretty chuffed with ourselves, gloating that we had given the others a 30 minute start and then won, when Brenda told us that the first prize was to plan the Treasure Hunt for next year. That'll teach us to be such cocky so and so's. To add insult to injury, Jo and I were "shocked" to find out that we got a point for "The Treaty of EC", which was signed in Rome. Sounds extremely dubious to me!!

I have to say that the idea has since grown on me, and I am actually looking forward to hosting you all in our back yard, same time next year. Since returning home, I have driven my wife Kath up the wall, trying to come up with various schemes. We are all in agreement, however, that what we really need is a good pub to start from, so I'll have to get very busy sampling them and making my selection. I may need to visit some on a number of occasions just to be sure that they are up to the standard required.

On behalf of everyone who took part, I would like to say a big thank you to John and Brenda for their efforts in organising this year's event. It went fantastically well and kept us out of the pub for nearly three hours. (I feel better for it already).


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