Review- Buck Buck Games – The Hunt for the Smoking Caterpillar

I was recently invited to attend the new immersive theatre game, The Hunt for the Smoking Caterpillar, by Buck Buck Games in their residency at The Owl and the Hitchhiker pub on Holloway Road, London.

I’ve never really attended anything immersive theatre related, or escape room related before so I literally had no idea what I was walking into, but the Buck Buck Games website describe it as ‘ Our event games and characters combine escape rooms, immersive theatre and murder mystery with fun fuelled challenges’ so I thought I would take my husband along for unique evening out!

The pub itself is a complete hidden treasure in, it’s quirkiness is apparent as soon as you walk in ( it has hairdryers all hanging from the ceiling above the bar!). It has a table tennis table around the back of the bar and there were a group of people playing card games at one of the tables and a couple in one of the booth seating areas playing monopoly……….so not your typical pub in any sense. They have a great menu ( our plan was to eat before we played but unfortunately the traffic was not on our side that evening and we didn’t have enough time) including an extensive vegan selection, and although we didn’t get the chance to eat, the food that was coming out of the kitchen looked very good.

Anyway, on to the games. As we arrived and got a drink we could see more groups turning up and congregating at the bottom of the stairs were the games were advertised.

We were met by one of the characters who came down and rounded us up and gave us our little bag of ‘golds’ and the rules to play by. Then we were taken upstairs where we met the Baron who explained loosely what we had to do ( get as many ‘golds’ as we could by solving the clues as well as bartering and bribing others), he warned us to watch out for the ‘serpent’ and when we heard the horn being blown we had to ‘drop to the deck’ to escape the serpent and if we didn’t or we were too slow we would have to forfeit some of our collected golds. Believe me this is no easy feat when you use a walking stick like me, but there was no way I was getting caught out……………..and either I was a bloody fast mover, or they took pity on me, but I didn’t get caught out! My competitive nature must have kicked in at that point.

Now, what I don’t want to do is give anything away that would be considered a spoiler so I didn’t take any pictures inside the rooms. What I can tell you though that this immersive game is completely BONKERS BUT BRILLIANT! Bonkers as in the characters were fabulous at spinning the story and getting you to fully immerse yourself in what was going on, however mad it was………….and it was completely mad. There was about 20 of us in the group we were in and some of them were brilliant at getting involved ( I’m looking at you lot in the dunces hats that evening). This, I can imagine, only makes the game much more fun for all involved. My husband was sooooooo far out of his comfort zone at the start ( not having done anything like this before) but once we got started on the clues and what was going on he was fully into it and we had such a laugh between us. Do not be afraid to barter with or blackmail the other people there, it can make all the difference to what you find out and what alliances can be made – that’s all I’m going to say.

I can happily say that in our game we did in fact find the smoking caterpillar and I did receive my Certificate of Cooperation!

If I tell you anything else I think it would spoil it though so I’m going to leave it there. We loved it. It was a new experience for us and we were so glad we were invited along to review it. Honestly, if you are looking for something different and completely bonkers to do then I cannot recommend this enough. Get a big group of you along for a great night out or just go as a couple like we did, either way leave any sense of normality at the door, let yourself just enjoy the madness going on around you and I guarantee you’ll have great fun.

If you get a chance to go early to have some food in the pub first, or stay after to enjoy a few drinks in a great friendly atmosphere afterwards, it’s worth the trip.

These were some of the characters there that evening ( although I’m sure these must change depending on when you go obviously), these guys were amazing at getting everyone involved and into the story………….they work bloody hard too as it must be difficult to keep very enthusiastic participants on track in order to finish in time and yet still stay fully in character! ( the game lasts around an hour and a drink is included once you are taking up to the room). Word of warning it gets very hot up there with all of the participants in the rooms together and we did attend on the hottest day on record! The good news is the actual pub downstairs is gloriously air conditioned and believe me you will want a drink and a cool down when you come out.

This is me and my husband with the ‘mad hatter’ style character- she was our meet and greet at the start and played a great part throughout

 

This was Polly the Barons daughter………this guy was brilliant and completely bonkers!

 

This is the Baron, don’t be fooled by the smile – he takes no prisoners………..in fact at the start when he ushered everyone to the front I was too nervous to go- so I stayed at the back and drunk my gin!

 

So, have you been to anything like this before? I’d love to know what you think………..and if you do go to The Hunt for the Smoking Caterpillar let me know how you got on!

How to play Teenage ‘Life’ Poker

Maybe that isn’t the right thing thing to teach your teenagers to play poker ( but my 2 are both dab hands at Texas Hold ’em *coughs*)

But this is a different style of poker, more like poker stakes with a difference- no money changes hands!

I’m totally sick and tired of my two whinging, whining, woe is me teens. Honestly I don’t know how on earth I got to the ripe old age of………43 without them. It’s a total miracle that I have made it in one piece with their infinite wisdom. C’mon all you with teens will know- THEY KNOW EVERYTHING!!

Well here’s my Teenage Poker game :

* I ‘see’ your 700 channel, 24 hour on demand TV ( in your own room) remotely controlled so minimum of movement is required- and I ‘raise’ you a one telly per household, with an amazing 4 channels to choose from, with kids shows only available on certain times AND you had to get off your arse to change channel, adjust the volume and switch it on and off!!

* I ‘see’ your health and safety gone mad child safety toes including padding for everywhere for anything used on the move, trampolines with total surround safety nets and barriers to stop you getting even remotely close to anything that could possibly damage you precious little bodies- and I *raise* you the Pogo stick, metal adjustable skates that went on your shoes and homemade go carts with no brakes and a rope to steer! ENOUGH SAID

* I ‘see’ your named brand clothes that are a ‘must have’ where literally NOTHING costs less than £60 even though the ones you are wearing are absolutely fine and still fit- and I ‘raise’ you the 80’s fashions!!!! We have been scarred for life and we have the picture evidence to prove it.

* I ‘see’ your games consoles, laptops, Ipads, tablets and Iphones with everything at an instant touch of a button teaching you nothing but lack of patience- and I ‘raise’ you……….The Atari with the exciting Pong game!!! Graphics at it’s best LOL

* I ‘see’ your door to door on call chauffeur service to all your extra curricular clubs so your precious little legs didn’t get worn out and so are kept safe from all the horrible nastiness that is on our streets today – and I ‘raise’ you the if you cant walk there your not going and the the journey to school in an easily recognisable protestant uniform across town on the bus through a predominantly catholic area  starting when I was 11 years old going to secondary school. I looked danger in the eye on a daily basis and still made it to my ripe old age!

* I ‘see’ your on your person 24hrs a day phone in touch with your friends and family wherever you are at any given moment- and I ‘raise’ you the one telephone household. A phone normally situated in the hall that had an attached receiver that stretched all of a metre if you were lucky and no privacy to talk what so ever- with everyone listening in to your conversation!

Therefore, I win hands down and if anyone should have Childline on speed dial then it should be US- your old, know nothing, haven’t lived parents.

Top tips for camping with families

Having just had a week away at half term camping in Dorset, I started thinking why I love being away camping- something that would have had me breaking out in a sweat a few years ago!

THE TRICK IS TO BE ORGANISED!

1. Print of a camping list of any of the main camping sites online ( or make your own using theirs as a basis) and check list against your equipment several weeks before you go, ticking off the stuff you have and listing the stuff you need to get.

2. Make a shopping list just for the time you are away- PLAN YOUR MEALS– and take the basics with you. So if your plan is to have a curry make sure you have the jar of sauce and then buy your meat fresh on the day.

3. Cool box and freezer blocks– essential for milks etc. I tend to freeze a pack of bacon and sausages to take for a cooked breakfast on our 1st morning there- they act as freezer blocks for the first day but have defrosted well for the first mornings breakfast!!

4.Go prepared– by that I mean for cold and warm weather!! Woolly hats and hot water bottles for the colder evenings, possible shorts and suncream for warmer days.

5. Take games– suitable for your children and family to play. We take Uno cards, several decks of cards for Black Jack and Solitaire, pens and writing pads for Hangman/ Battleship. They don’t take up much space but can provide a few hours of entertainment on a rainy day! Don’t forget games for outside- football/ bats and balls/ Frisbees etc

6. Get the kids involved by giving them some responsibility. Let them pack a small bag of things they want to bring for their own amusement- book, head torches, trump cards etc. Also during the camp try giving older kids a chore- filling the water bottles, washing up, taking rubbish to the bins etc.

7. Take Flasks– not only are these fab to take out with you during the day for a sneaky cuppa but we fill them at dinner time to make teas and hot chocolates before bed ( instant hot water when the kids are tired and don’t want to wait for the kettle to boil!).

8. Take a windbreaker– not only are these fab to mark an area close to your tent space but they provide a great cooking area if your tent does not have a porch. Also they are easy to uproot and take with you for a day at the beach ( presuming we get sunshine!).

9. Disposable BBQ– these can be picked up for a few quid in most places but are great to take to the beach for a lovely evening with a Hot Dog or Burger thrown in! Sometimes we don’t even bother with The BBQ and we use one of our single stoves and a pan for the same results. They are portable so make use of them.

10. Relax and enjoy– there doesn’t need to be a strict regime like at home. No one will be knocking at your door. The ironing and cleaning do not need doing. Take a break from social media. Take each day as it comes, late mornings/ late bedtimes/ extra snacks and treats…………………………..THIS IS YOUR HOLIDAY AFTER ALL!!!!!

ENJOY

What’s that noise?…………….peace and quiet!

Tell me, am I the only horrible mother in the world that has breathed a sigh of relief now the kids are back to school?

Surely I’m not on my own here. Yesterday was like heaven in the respect that I had no TV on, no radios or Ipods blaring, and most of all NO ARGUING! ( Well that was until they came home from school to get organised for Halloween. Which truly ended up as a ‘Benny Hill’ style fast forward video as I had friends round and needed to feed everyone, play games, take kids trick or treating and then have them ready and changed for Scouts by 7.20pm!!!

No easy feat I can tell you……………………….

Last minute.com pumpkins done the night before!!


The motley crew!

 


Before we knew it we were off trick or treating and then the boys were whisked off to scouts for more mess and games!!

All we needed was some comedy music and it wouldn’t have been out of place on a Benny Hill episode.

But after a hectic week over half term I’m kind of glad it’s all calmed down a little………….well for this week anyway. I’m totally enjoying ( rightly or wrongly) the peace during the day. Now I may be able to catch up on all the stuff that’s been put on hold since the start of the holidays.

So am I the only one?