Saturday, August 07, 2010

There's Been a Murder!

“There’s been a murder! Can you follow the trail, solve the clues and unmask the culprit?” Apparently not!

We purchased a treasure trail, "a fun and healthy outdoor activity for all ages", a while ago and seeing as we were child-sitting for the day yesterday we decided to head off to the town and “follow the trail, solve the clues and unmask the culprit”. We were promised 1.5 miles of walking which turned out to be much more than that as we retraced our steps more than once having missed the clue. We were also promised 1.5 hours of sleuthing which turned out to be a lot longer because of all the retracing of steps.

I had my money on Frank Thomson long before we began. His eyes were definitely too close together.

Things started to go wrong at Clue 6. We were instructed to enter the grounds of the Church of Scotland, and find a date above the double doors of the church. The grounds of the church were occupied by a few dozen wedding guests and a man playing the bagpipes. Trying to see the dates above the double door was hindered by the newly married couple and the photographer. None of the dates matched up with the information we had – it turned out we were looking at the wrong double doors of the wrong church!

Clue 10 turned out to be another challenge. “Find the face in the photo” – the photo was a porcelain decoration against something red. We walked the length of the street, and back again looking at front doors, gate posts, garden sheds and there was nothing like the decoration to be seen anywhere. We stopped outside one house to gather round the clue sheet, read the question for the hundredth time and look at the photo.

“Are you doing the mystery trail?” A head popped out of a bedroom window.

“Yes, we are stuck on one clue…”

“Perhaps I can help.”

The woman knew when she stuck her head out of her window that “perhaps” didn’t even cover it. She came through the front door, red faced, carrying the porcelain decoration.

“We painted the shed and never got around to putting the decoration back up,” she confessed.

Clues 11 and 12 eluded us. No doubt we were at the wrong park this time, looking at the wrong information board. There was no mention of flowers, and nothing apart from fouling dogs was banned from the park. We took a guess – flowers and trees? Does Ivy qualify as a flower? Willow is certainly a tree! So we confidently eliminated Ivy Willow from our enquiries.

Next clue had something to do with banks on either side of the main road. We were keeping an eye out for banks – specifically a hole in wall to get some money to pay for tea and cakes. Then we spotted the banks “Ivy Bank House Hotel” and “Willow Bank Guesthouse”.

Another clue told us to look for initials on a “regal” building. Could it be the Royal Bank of Scotland or The Royal Fish Shop? The Royal British Legion wasn’t close enough to the traffic lights to meet the requirements of the clue. None of them had the required initials.

We had been walking around for about four hours up to this point. Admittedly we were walking slowly and we had had a tea and cake stop, but even so, the most enthusiastic among us were beginning to feel frustrated. Ivy Willow being dismissed as a suspect too early on in our investigation undermined our confidence. Mistakes in our reasoning were cropping up. Another photo, quickly found, two initials, F and O, we can eliminate Forbes O’Neil from our suspect list – Oh…we already did…back at the park! We were running out of time and stamina.

All of a sudden I didn’t really care how many identical crowns there were in the Grant Family Crest and was disinclined to walk to the “end of the road down to a small grassy park” to find a fountain. I had had enough.

Then a real life mystery grabbed our attention – the case of the missing car keys. I could have sworn they were in my jacket pocket. We retraced our steps to the coffee house where I had taken the jacket off. No keys had been handed in. We tried the bank where I had withdrawn the money for tea and cakes. No keys had been handed in. I’d sat down on the grass at the park where Ivy Willow had been wrongly eliminated from our enquiries.

I went back to the car, while Joe and the girls resumed the hunt for the killer. I wasn’t quite sure how I could get to my car keys if, as I believed, I’d locked them in the boot. As it was, there they were, dangling enticingly from the lock of the car boot. I thanked God for the honesty of the people who lived in the town, that they hadn’t stolen the car…but then thanked God that the car was of such age and condition that no one in their right mind would steal it!

Joe told me later that he and the girls had prayed that the car keys would be found – and they were.

The trail had delivered some of the promised goods – we had fun (most of the time), we were outdoors (nearly all of the time) and we were very active (some of the time). The car keys might have been found, but sadly our killer and his or her weapon wasn’t. One would hope that it’s not a serial killer we are dealing with.

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