Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday 1st May 1938

General Hospital Treasure Hunt. Miss Bailey (looking deuced attractive in a plaid kerchief) kept her promise and found me a passenger – a vivacious, easy-to-get-on-with girl named Diana Wilson. We all sat there in our cars and received the first clue. It looked like this –

A _______________ X o Y _____________B

AX =32
BY =6
Therefore find centre of circle XY

What an awful puzzle!
Should we have to ask for assistance right at the start? Suddenly a car dashed away, then two more. We followed hopefully. The cars ahead turned down Southbourne Grove and right onto the Arterial Road. Suddenly I had it! The centre of the roundabout at Rayleigh! London 32, Southend 6! I was there and had the clue within a few seconds of the first car.

The next clue led to Battlesbridge – an easy one. My little Zephyr held it’s own valiantly with the faster cars, only one of which overtook. Now we made our fatal mistake. The third clue was;

DC
CI
1618
2
FH

Three cars again dashed away. I followed sheep like, thinking of Danbury Church – Church Institute – built 1618 – clue hidden 2 feet above the ground. Rather feeble. We were soon left behind and alone on the hilly roads north of the Crouch. After some time, with misgiving, I began to wonder about Dutch Cottage on Canvey Island which might have been built in 1618. We eventually arrived at Danbury Church and found about a dozen people rather aimlessly looking at tombstones etc.

Eventually we decided that Canvey Island was more possible, and left. A long drive along quiet roads. Alas! The chase seemed to have passed us by! We almost forgot there was a treasure hunt anywhere. Diana Wilson told me about her fiancé and I told her about Pat and her lack of energy. My companion, a lively person, was puzzled by this, and would ask about Pat every now and then. (I later thanked Miss Bailey for having found me such a quick-witted, charming and energetic passenger.)

Canvey Island. How our hearts sank when we saw the date inscribed on the wall “1621”; how they leapt when the startled occupier said there was another cottage, which was built in 1618! And as we reached this cottage, two cars dashed up and people came running. We were in the chase again!

The next clue was at Hadleigh Castle. Half-a-dozen cars were parked nearby and I turned mine around, ready for a quick getaway, whilst Diana rushed into the ruins.
“Leigh Cockleshed no. 7!” she panted as I ran to meet her. The level crossing gates were against us at Leigh but Diana crossed by the footbridge and ran half a mile to the cocklesheds before I met her again. Westcliff Riding School (that was hard to decipher!); The Hospital (an easy one); and then the old museum at Priory Park.

Grinning attendants watched as we tiptoed around, looking for an oak chest. We found it in the cellars! The next clue was a jumble of letters. We blanched at sight of it. Whilst we pondered, six o’clock arrived; so we rang up and were told to come to Rayleigh Weir Hotel for tea. There had been two more clues to do, so we did not win. However we finished fairly well, in spite of the awful Danbury mistake.

We shared a table at tea with Joan Bailey and her cousin – feller named Tutton, a vet’s assistant, fresh from college and quite newly arrived in the district.
“Do you know anyone who wants a dog?” he asked me. Curiously enough I did! The Butler’s dog had died that very afternoon. The four of us drove Southend wards in my car after tea. The others had nothing to do, so we went to Eastwoodbury, where Fred Butler agreed to have Tutton’s surplus dog, provided it was all right with chickens.

The girls wanted a walk so I drove to Nobles Green and parked in a lane. We wandered through Hockley Woods; all very fresh after the rain. The girls picked some bluebells. It was twilight when we reached Zephyr again. Went to Battlesbridge, had some beer (except Diana) and played darts at the May-phil. Dropped Tutton in Rayleigh and took aboard a black mongrel dog. Then Diana was taken to her digs.

Drove back to Eastwoodbury, and carried in the black mongrel to a great welcome from the family, by the fireside.

Hastily, took Joan Bailey back to the Hospital. A damn good afternoon and evening!

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