Wednesday, 1 August 2007

The detectives

Off we go to be detectives in the woods by dusk, courtesy of our splendid Parks department and their lovely programme of excellent summer activities. (I'm sure one of them might be reading now.)

This is supposed to be a bit of fun, crashing about the woods at dusk, finding out who's committed a robbery that very day, and learning about all things natural in the process. Well, actually, when the Parks lady points in that direction down the track through the woods and says Go that way to look for a clue, and we're the first party out, it all starts looking a teensy bit like we're reenacting the Blair Witch Project and becomes a bit scary.

Anyway, Grit, being very game about these things, clutches her mobile and has already checked the signal for the emergency services by the time we reach Clue Number 1. Phew! This is easy, so off we go then to Clue Number 2. This is also easy and Grit calms down and starts shouting at the junior Grits just like normal. We miss Clue Number 3, probably thanks to Grit shouting at everybody, and then we have to be rescued by one of the Parks staff because we are crashing off up the wrong path in the wrong direction.

By the time we get to Clue Number 4 the rivals have started to catch up, so it becomes a race to get to the laminated bees before they do. We can't find the laminated bees and so do the decent thing that any competitive detective family would do in a similar situation. Cheat. Dig sidles over to a particularly dumb looking kid from a rival family and gets the answer to the laminated bees clue in no time and then we're back on track.

Unfortunately the next clue is a game. This is going to be a disaster. And it is. Can you throw 9 tennis balls into 9 plastic plant pots. No. Not when Squirrel's collecting up as many balls as she can, Tiger's throwing hers into the pots and immediately taking them out again, and Shark's crashing through the entire game, knocking over the plant pots before stumbling into one which then wedges onto her foot. After a few minutes of that, we're losing ground, so I declare Hurrah! we must have done it. Now find the next clue.

The next clue requires us to put things in a pot. We can't find any pot. We deduce the rival family with the dumb kid has stolen the pot to throw us off the scent. It cannot be that we are too stupid to find it. Anyway, I am at this point distracted by Squirrel, who has obviously been desperate for a wee and now, strangely, no longer is. If anyone asks, I will claim that she fell into a puddle, front first. And of course the water from the woodland dell sprayed out into that funny arc shape all over her dress.

So off we go again, smelling slightly and not dismayed at all that by this time we have started to lose track of the clue numbering system. We find the Can you spot the animal tracks clue, then Can you make up a jigsaw (only if you take it out of Tiger's hands and do it yourself). Finally we get to the clue where we have to do magnetic fishing. This involves a lot of screaming and pushing because, and I'm sure it was an oversight, the excellent Parks department has put out only two rods. That little moment puts me in mind of the time that, at the seaside, Dig bought only two bucket and spade sets to share between three four-year olds because he wanted to save 99p.

From all of these clues we should have a collection of letters which we then have to translate into a word using a secret code. We end up with the word Tquirrel. Being rather smart at these things, we deduce that we must have got one of the letters wrong. Anyway, the dumb-looking kid from the rival family shouted out Squirrel at us some time ago, thus rendering the whole exercise pointless.

Nevertheless, all the junior Grits declare the evening jolly good fun, and Tiger even found some evidence. It was naughty squirrel who stole the hazelnuts. And look! Three hazlenut husks! They are at this moment proudly displayed on the mantlepiece, a trophy of our fine detective work.

No comments: