If lockdown gets you down, why not hunt for treasure?

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Cats on a treasure chest

By Joanne Bartley

I’m not really enjoying lockdown, but of course it is important that we stay home. At least these strange times are encouraging new skills. My kids are now master bakers (flour permitting), my husband’s taken up football management (winning the FA Cup on his laptop), and I’ve made a treasure hunt offering a golden prize!

I’ve always loved the idea of buried treasure and mysteries to solve, so when I’d eaten too much banana bread and finished watching Tiger King, I got busy creating a treasure hunt people could solve at home.

It’s a simple enough idea, there’s a booklet of 21 clues and people study the pictures and work out which places they describe. The tricky bit comes when you need to decide how to link these places to find the ‘X marks the spot’ treasure location. This involves imagination rather than cracking complex codes, as I want this game to be fun rather than needing a genius IQ! When I was ten years old I loved the treasure hunt book, Masquerade, so it’s trying to recreate that feel. I tried to make this something that children could get involved with, or that families could solve together.

The treasure hunt is set in Whitstable, my home town, and though the game can be solved from anywhere in the world, there may be a small advantage if you know the town. Whitstable is famous for oysters so the game’s ‘treasure’ is, of course, a golden oyster. The winner will receive a pretty victorian oyster brooch, plus a cash price.

I have two six month old cats who star in the clue pictures, but you’ll have to work out yourself whether they help reveal the answer or are a red herring!

There are plenty of ‘armchair treasure hunt’ fans around the world, and there are already sales of my clue books to people all over the UK. Obviously it’s not up to me who solves my puzzle, but I secretly hope a local might win.

If puzzles are your thing I hope you might buy a booklet and join this Whitstable treasure hunt. The booklets cost £8 each, including local delivery. The prize cash is created through the booklet sales, so the more people who play the bigger the prize will be. Right now I’m supporting the Revival crowdfunder, because it’s a social enterprise that does so much good work in our community. I’m donating £2 for every clue booklet purchased this week – so there’s even more reason to join the treasure hunt!

To give a taste of the clues here’s a quick competition. I’ll send a free clue booklet to someone who solves the following picture clue. Where is this place?

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If you think you have the answer email the solution to competition@goldenoyster.co.uk by the end of the day on 24 May. I’ll draw a random winner from among the correct entries. Good luck!

These are tough times, and I’ll be glad when things get back to normal, but lockdown does bring rainbows, so why not look for a pot of gold?

Competition entries must be submitted to  competition@goldenoyster.co.uk by the end of the day on Sunday May 24th. A winner will be drawn at random from among the correct entries.  

If you’d like to learn more about the Golden Oyster visit GoldenOyster.co.uk.

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