August Bank Holiday, Sunday 28th August 2011, the day designated for our Annual Mystery Run, started fairly miserably with overcast skies and light but constant rain. However some 34 combatants in 17 cars signed in at Sprucefield at the appointed hour all determined to display their mastery of tulip navigation and skill in solving clues. Chief Marshall Mervyn sent the cars off into Stage 1 all equipped with emergency supplies in the form of the traditional ‘goodie’ bag.
From Sprucefield the cars passed through Hillsborough and then on by a circuitous route to Ballynahinch where they were met by Derek who sent them off into Stage 2. Apart, that is, for two teams who committed the cardinal sin of navigation – they asked a local for directions! However the two miscreant teams were eventually found and sent off on Stage 2 – if somewhat late.
Stage two followed the route to Crossgar,on to Killyleagh and into Downpatrick. From Downpatrick the route headed towards Strangford and Castle Ward, which was designated as our lunch stop. Mervyn and Ernie ensured the tidy parking of cars in the privileged position – in front of the big house. By this time the weather had really improved and we all enjoyed a picnic lunch in warm sunshine. After lunch most took advantage of the attractions of Castle Ward and time passed quickly to 3.00pm our scheduled departure time.
Stage three would take us to our dinner date (at Ballynahinch) but before that the route went via Strangford, Ardglass, Killough, Tyrella, Clough and Seaford. This part of County Down was new to many of the teams and all were impressed by the wonderful coast line with the dramatic Mourne Mountains as a backdrop. It was on this stage that the determination of several members came through – one clue mentioned three beer signs – however during an altercation on the Saturday night someone put a brick (?) through one of the signs and it was no longer where it should be. Undaunted some members interviewed the bar manager and /or a general cross section of the local population and came up with responses such as what the sign had been – what the new sign would be – what the new sign should be and various other comments. How could such initiative be ignored?
Thirty five people sat down to an excellent meal at The Millbrook Lodge Hotel on the outskirts of Ballynahinch. Suitably fed and watered we reached the presentation of prizes. For the first time (I understand) we had a tie for second place with Stephen and Beryl and Trevor and Linda having equal points. Tie-break questions were asked and all we need to say is that Stephen knows more about the history of cars than he does about famous events in history. Trevor and Linda took second place with Stephen and Beryl third. However the first prize went to Jean and Linda who turned in a perfect score with a level of detail that just could not be bettered. Many congratulations Jean and Linda – the downside however – you have to set the course next year (only joking).
Thanks to Derek for his marshalling duties and for organising the ballot – thanks to Mervyn and Ernie for their help and especially thanks to Barbara who persuaded me not to resign my membership and not to sell our MG – and who also marked and scored the returns.
Here’s to next year.