Sherlock Holmes, Megabus and 26 bloggers trying to save London from Moriarty: the recipe for a fun night out.
My only experience with the company, which, if you somehow have missed its iconic blue coaches and jolly yellow-shirted conductor Sid, runs travel services from all over the country to London, and vice versa, had not been the greatest, but I am the biggest sucker for mystery games so I had to say an enthusiastic yes to the invitation to be part of the lucky first 26 on the #MegaMysteryBus. I’m so glad I did. Now, we’re talking about around 3 years ago, but I did not remember the coach I was on en route to Liverpool to be so spacious and comfortable, and I’m a big fan of companies which keep improving themselves, so I would definitely travel by Megabus in the future. In fact, I find the time we spent on the coach was not enough to enjoy just how comfy the seats are (I had spent the whole day wandering around the Surface Design Show, and if it wasn’t for the adrenaline of a competition I’d have gladly napped between stops, which were Portman Square to Westminster, Westminster to Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden back to Portman Square).
The game itself was really impressive, as there was something for everyone as well as enough to make my £27000 history degree worth it: it had a scavenger’s hunt that required some displays of creativity, an observation game with visual clues about the location and questions to answer, some guessing games, video challenges, photo challenges and some challenges to get clues out of Sherlock Holmes himself, Inspector Lestrade and a criminal putting into danger the patrons at Covent Garden piazza, who have enjoyed the spectacle of a some very competitive people running around shouting things that made no sense unless you knew it was part of a game. Some lucky people even had a chance to be part of the game, but I can’t say more without giving away the clues!
While there was something for the talents and interests of everyone, the game is organised in a way that the team needs to stick together and work together, which fostered a great sense of camaraderie among us, thanks to a shared competitiveness that had us finish second out of four, which isn’t the result I was hoping for (especially given the 2 weeks down with tonsillitis that followed!) but it’s still decent and I’m proud of our work. It was a very diverse group of bloggers, some I was familiar from other events or Twitter and some I had never met before, and it’s a great way to bring together people who would have likely never met each other if they had not been randomly put together in these teams, and I think that’s really lovely. It would be so lovely also to do it with people you don’t know if you just moved to London, or want more friends, or have no friends who like to do mystery games, but it’s also a great idea for parties of all kind so I hope this becomes a thing, and that when it does it can be booked either way. (Please Megabus, it would be brilliant!)
We were joined by some company representatives (as well as the lovely team behind Search Laboratory who were responsible for the organisation, and feeding us lovely food-blogger-approved nibbles and wine at the Radisson Blue where the night began and ended – a perfect event as usual!), who really enjoyed to watch us running around (quite literally) trying to get things done on strict timelines because time is precious when there is a city to be saved from an evil mastermind trying to blow us all up, so I’m thankful to M&S for the cute but practical new loafers I wore on the night. They talk about how much they enjoyed it too on the Megabus blog. I think it makes the company quite forward-looking to organise a thing like this, and I’m not saying that because they bought me off with LoveHearts (although there were LoveHearts in our goodie bags so they totally bought my forever love with LoveHearts). They are the market leaders in budget inter-city coach travel, with fares from £1 plus 50p booking fees, free wifi on all coaches and tickets including a 20kg baggage allowance, covering over 90 locations in the UK alone, which makes them the ideal company for young people (and anyone travelling on a budget) anyway, but having them throw such a fun night out has definitely changed my perception of them. Budget doesn’t have to be a dirty word!
Not all journeys with Megabus will involve an actual Sherlock Holmes-themed adventure, but with the low cost and availability of destinations they can become a part of your adventures around the country, discovering sights unseen and local food in places far away instead of just being students’ preferred method of going back home from their university town! (I still think the #MegaMysteryBus needs to become a thing)
All pictures in the post are courtesy of Matt Chappell and Search Laboratory.