Inside a mystery box

Image sourced from Lacy Lane

Image sourced from Lacy Lane

Even though you’re growing up, you should never stop having fun.  – Nina Dobrev

You can be childlike without being childish. A child always wants to have fun. Ask yourself, ‘Am I having fun?’ – Christopher Meloni

Life is more fun if you play games.  – Roald Dahl

As a child I was fascinated by mystery boxes.  Being presented with a number of unobtrusive boxes and being tasked with choosing one to reveal either a welcome bounty or a dud souvenir was excruciatingly enticing . I delighted in the weighing up of possibilities and the anticipation –  would there be ultimate enjoyment or a momentary disappointment from having made the wrong decision?  Recently the tables were turned slightly. I was not choosing a box for a reward but rather I was put inside a mystery box and the ultimate reward came from escape.

My analogy is weak, I agree, so let me tell you a little about one of the most exhilarating  fun experience I have had in a very long time.

It all began with a shake down.  Phones and other electronic devices were confiscated and locked away.  A hood was placed over my head. I don’t go in much for blindfolds and I certainly don’t like hessian bags over my head but in the spirit of adventure and fun I played along.  We were led to our chamber and once our captor departed and locked us within we removed our bags to find we were in the dark bowels of the Butcher’s Burrow.  We had 50 minutes to escape our fate and I had no idea how to begin. There were limited tools at our disposal and those that seemed to exist were sealed away with combination locks. Time was of the essence and the two of us had to work together to escape.  Our first objective was to find light.

I would love to describe in detail the steps we took to escape and the challenges we faced but that would spoil the fun should you attempt this yourself. The Exitus escape rooms are an exciting addition to the adult fun arena.  The room we visited is part of the entertainment at Strike Bowling in the city of Brisbane but they are popping up almost everywhere.  Each room has a theme where minimal clues are given and teams must use their wits and combined brain power to solve the puzzles confronting them. The goal is to escape before the nominated time is up.  You can ask for clues – using the iPad that is supplied or the mobile phone that links directly to the administrator.  Beware – there are time penalties for clues.

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Before entering, I was a little apprehensive.  The thought of being locked in an unfamiliar room for close to an hour, sent my heart a flutter.  What if I felt claustrophobic and too confined, what if I  needed to get out?  Those thoughts soon passed and then a sheen of sweat broke out as I wondered if I would know what to do. Would I be able to solve the puzzles?  What if I needed maths? I need not have worried.  Precautions are in place in case of panic – the mobile phone allows for an instant exit should you need it and the puzzles, well, while they initially  seemed unsolvable, once an instinctual need to ‘escape’ kicked in the fuzziness of my mind was miraculously unlocked and I forged ahead.  Good news too – no maths needed.

My adult son and I worked exceptionally well as a team.  He had been in an escape room before and had some sense of what was required so with a little guidance we set about our task with the pressure and weight of a ticking clock as a constant motivator. We each had our moments of clarity and success and often times it was our combined collaboration that saw the different clues uncovered and puzzles solved.  Teams of up to six can enter the rooms.  I would have found that a little difficult; coping with too many personalities and noise may have rendered me incapable of clear throughout but it may also add to the fun for many.

We escaped, triumphant.  In our last three minutes, holding our final clue we were stumped.  We tossed around ideas, tried various options but relented and asked for a clue.  We weighed the alternative – time penalty or eviction without resolution.  We chose to finish the puzzle.  Surprisingly we were on the right path and probably would have gotten to the end point unaided but that ticking clock forced our hand.

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If you want to experience the difference between fun and enjoyment but don’t want to jump out of planes, travel too far from home or spend a fortune; try escape rooms – they are loads of fun and worth every cent. The warm after glow will provide you with plenty of lasting enjoyment once the thrill of the moment has passed.

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Skylarking: a slow sweet Sunday

 

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I went to the bank and asked to borrow a cup of money. They said, “What for?”
I said, “I’m going to buy some sugar.” — Steven Wright

Last weekend I went on a sweet journey to sugar heaven.

It all began with my beloved bemoaning that the lolly shop, at the nearby shopping centre, no longer stocked a particular type of lolly. He calls them ‘talkies’. I know them as ‘conversations’. Do you know the ones? They are usually shaped like hearts, come in a variety of pastel colours. They’re a hard chalky lolly with little messages written on them. Sweet little messages like “I love you”, “You’re cute”, ” Be mine”.

Remembering a small advertisement I’d seen recently I suggested he try one of the confectionary warehouses.  A quick google search revealed that the one I had in mind did indeed stock these conversation candies, in varying weights from 300g to a kilo, all at very reasonable prices.  That little tidbit of information was filed away with only  a modicum of interest by my sweet toothed beloved.

Sunday morning unfolded in a relaxed manner with breakfast on the deck and reading the papers before I was very romantically invited to join said beloved on a trip to the hardware store; a date I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Having sated ourselves with our browsing of timber fence palings, posts and rails and with few other plans for the day,  I suggested we check out the candy warehouse.  There was some hesitation from my partner in crime as it required a jaunt across our fair city. Several moments later however we ventured out in search of (one of) his favourite childhood sweets.

The drab old warehouse gave nothing away as to the delights within. It’s exterior was dull compared to the bright and colourful interior. On entering the we were greeted by an enchanting bouquet that was akin to the joy of waking, as a child, on Christmas morning and seeing a well stocked Santa bag at the foot of the bed. It was heavenly.

We scampered about, aisle after aisle, oohing and ahhing and exclaiming “remember these”, “look at this”. We were surprised by the massive sizes of some packages and the wide variety of chocolates, lollies, nuts, and other products. Needless to say my offer to grab a basket upon entry, that was initially ignored, was soon accepted. My husband was like, well, a kid in a candy store.

As the basket quickly  filled  I heard cries of needing to rationalise the quantity of the selections already made. Before approaching the register, one lone kilo packet of jelly beans was left behind and we scarpered out the door with a year’s supply of  swagger.

As a non sugar eater myself, though I do confess to regularly having sweet cravings, I marvel that I  enjoy browsing lolly shops and bakeries without salivating. I did, however, make two small purchases; there was something for everyone. The  deal on cacao nibs drew my attention and I was overjoyed at finding my favourite decaf black tea, currently difficult to find elsewhere. We both left skipping with the joy of a fun purchase.

Hold the bells, I’m not advocating a diet high in processed sugar. Everything in moderation should always be the mantra, though I can’t say just how long this stash will last given the ‘healthy’ appetite for junk food my darling possesses.

Sometimes it’s the little things; like spending time together, making new discoveries and releasing your inner child that are the sweetest treats in life. How sweet does your weekend look?