I wrote a post a while back about my mum’s work with the Chernobyl Children’s Charity. Now my mum, being quite the master persuader (as they so usually are), ropes me into things before I even know what’s hit me. You may remember another post last year where I found myself buddy to some of the children while they were here on a visit, and spent a day at the funfair terrified as my little charges whisked me off on roller-coasters and other nerve-racking rides.
Well, last weekend was a lot less nerve-racking than the funfair. We did a treasure hunt to raise funds for the charity, which brings a group of children over to the UK each year for respite. Apparently, one month of good air and good food can add years to their lives. The day was a lot of fun, even more so because I got to team up with my cousin Margaret. We don’t see each other very often, but when we get together it’s as if we have never been apart.
The treasure hunt took place in Portsmouth, my home town, and each team was presented with a sheet of tasks which included visiting museums, train stations, the harbour, the international port, all in search of clues. Each one had to be photographed with one of the team, so we had hard evidence of achieving the task. We also had to collect things along the way, such as a theatre flyer, pub drinks mat (we stopped off for a very welcome glass of vino to collect this one), a library card application, a free sample, something sticky, fluffy and pink (a candy floss at the funfair) an empty crisp packet, something cold, something hot, etc.
There were plenty of other things to collect which included an expired parking ticket. We had to wear fluorescent jackets in order to carry a collecting tin, and as I went into a nearby car park searching for the expired parking ticket a lady came rushing over assuring me that she was only a few minutes over time and please would I not give her a ticket. She thought I was a parking attendant! Needless to say, her relief at not being given a ticket prompted her to pop some coins into the collecting tin 🙂
Since we still searched for the elusive used parking ticket, we decided to accost people walking back to their cars along the seafront. We spotted a couple of handsome young men getting into their car and decided to ask them for their ticket. My cousin, never one to let an opportunity pass her by, asked the driver if we could take a photo of him as we were searching for something hot and he certainly fit the bill 🙂 He promptly got out of his car ready to oblige and since Margaret was holding the camera, I was the lucky member of the team who got her photo taken with him. Oh well, someone had to do it, right? His friend said that we just had made his day and had certainly boosted his ego. He said his friend would be milking it for a long time to come!
We didn’t win the Hunt, but managed a healthy score. It was huge fun and we’re already planning our strategy for next year. I learned an awful lot about my hometown and marvelled that I’d lived there for the first twenty five years of my life and didn’t know things like King Charles the second’s bride, Catherine, arrived in Portsmouth from Portugal in 1662 and their marriage also took place here. Apparently, our tea-drinking tradition owes much of its popularity to Catherine whose love of the drink made it a more fashionable and widely drunk beverage.
Portsmouth is rich in naval history and it was lovely to revisit places I enjoyed as a child. We always visited Navy Days at historic Portsmouth Dockyard, where we would take a tour of HMS Victory. I loved the smell of the ship and remember being awestruck that I could stand on the very spot where Nelson fell during the Battle of Trafalgar having been shot by a sniper. Today the Dockyard also houses HMS Warrior (1860) and a museum displaying the wreck of the Tudor carrack, The Mary Rose.
Then there is the Charles Dickens birthplace museum, and the house were Peter Sellers was born. So much to see and rediscover.
A great fun day and a lovely opportunity to spend some special time reminiscing with my lovely cousin as we roamed our childhood haunts and discovered new ones.