Shady Christian is back in town. ‘Grey’ has broken all records, selling millions in its first week alone. EL James missed the Derby last weekend, but she did come to the Curragh to present a trophy to the winner of an all grey horse race in 2012. Maybe next year the Curragh will entice her over again and I can ask the woman how on earth she came up with the idea. The ropes, the cable ties, the whole bondage thing; she looks so sensible too. Still, even I learnt last week that handcuffs can lead to some surprisingly good fun.
It wasn’t my idea to visit Dublin, I had no clue where we were going; my husband arranged the whole thing as a surprise. It was a mystery trip, one that he had been planning for a while. On the way to our secret destination we passed noodle bars and sex shops on Capel Street. With the four kids in tow that last one wasn’t easy. Whilst the teenagers giggled, I distracted the younger two by pointing to the sky, pretending that I had just seen Spiderman and not a scantily clad woman beside a row of sex toys in the window.
We followed our leader to Little Britain Street. “We are HERE!” my husband said. I looked at the red door, the frosted windows and read the sign above, ‘The Adventure Rooms’ “Is this a joke?” I hissed, my mind was going into overdrive, “What about the kids?” Both teenagers reached for their phones and started to take photos. Whatever it was behind that door was about to be photographed and any minute now, would go live on Snap Chat.
I knocked on the door. Thankfully, Christian Grey didn’t answer; instead, a tall man named Keith greeted us and handed me a piece of paper, “Sign here”. We signed a waiver, handed over our phones and followed Keith into a very dark room. “Only 30% of people make it out of here. Good luck”. With that, he handcuffed each one of us to a wire fence and with a “You have one hour to escape,” left us to it. I watched the door close behind him and wondered what every other mother of four was doing at that moment in Ireland.
Regular readers will know that I am the first one to try out something new. Only last week I was in a canoe, the week before I was in the Japanese Gardens listening to the Mikado. But anything involving danger sends me into a mild panic. The game had begun and our leader started to shout instructions. “LOOK FOR CLUES! LOOK FOR CLUES!” My handcuffed eldest teenager stood beside me and rolled her eyes. “How long do we have to stay here?” she groaned. “55 minutes and 45 seconds” I replied looking up at a digital clock on the wall that had begun the countdown.
Being handcuffed to a fence was a first; it’s what protesters do. The rebel in me enjoyed it for the first few minutes. “I can’t get it off” the ten year old tugged and pulled at his wrists. “We have to get the KEY,” our leader shouted. In the dim light, clues were all around. All we had to do was calmly and logically work out what they all meant. Without my glasses, I was the weakest link. But with five other family members, all with 20/20 vision, we slowly started to find things and the fun began.
The Adventure Rooms is part of a new wave of entertainment taking the world by storm. It is a live escape game for up to six people, the object being to get out in less than sixty minutes. Fans of the show Crystal Maze will understand immediately. All around, in the sparsely furnished rooms, there are hints and puzzles. The fun is in finding and solving them. “Let’s GO” our leader and Crystal Maze enthusiast shouted. He’s been on cloud nine since he discovered that the show is making a return to our TV screens next year.
It took half an hour to find the clues and make our ‘escape’. I had been of no help whatsoever. Thoughts had drifted off to a noodle bar on Capel Street that we passed on the way in and a picture of a bowl of Chicken Chow Mein in the window. “THERE’S ANOTHER ROOM!” our leader yelled ahead of us. The next room was different, darker and with a blackboard on the wall. “LOOK FOR CLUES! LOOK FOR CLUES!” This time I was shouting, hunger was getting to me.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, my dysfunctional family did something remarkable. We started to work together. The ten year old spotted something that no one else did. He then did something with it that nobody else could do. The teenagers kicked into action when they found a torch. I stood back and watched as they all began screaming instructions to each other, running from one end of the room to the next. Then it happened. I saw something that everyone else had missed.
There might be a need for a spoiler alert here. I’ll try and describe it without ruining the day for anyone who might be thinking of going (and go you should). What I can say without getting into trouble is that if you have ever had smelly household problems, this tool sorts it out. In the Adventure Rooms last week, the same tool helped us escape. It was have my only contribution in the 54 minutes but it proved an important piece of the jigsaw.
With a surprising amount of teamwork we did it. We were in the 30% to make it out of the Adventure Rooms. We were elated. Being in a locked room with the whole family was the highlight of my year so far. I might even try it at home.
For further information check out www.theadventurerooms.ie