In late October we all received a cryptic image; Oliver Cromwell’s death mask with a red cross through his face, this could only mean one thing. The start of our trail of clues carving a path of mystery to our Imaginate Christmas party had begun!
We adopted the glass back wall of the office as our ideas splash ground, which by the end of November was a mass of photo clues and wild ideas. With the resultant guesses ranging from a party boat to a prohibition party, no one was too sure where we would end up. Eventually certain guesses were confirmed and rejected and our huge brain dump started to take shape!
Early December signalled the final push and eventually several of our guesses were confirmed by Jo, much to our delight.
We arrived at Ettington Park Hotel on the morning of 18th December to be greeted by gingerbread men and coffee in the drawing room. Once the troops were rounded up we were greeted by three gun masters in period dress ready to give us a shooting lesson with a slight competitive edge!
After splitting into two teams we were introduced to our French cut out targets and took aim with a range of guns; a Napoleonic era mortar, light sporting rifle, and the pump action shotgun. Kept warm by Hot Toddies and Mulled Wine one group took aim to strike the French castle 20m’s away, and the other team were soon collecting points for taking out balloons and then clays from their trap. For a collection of novices, everyone turned out to be a great shot, with Meg claiming the top title with the most kills! Sush and George were then challenged to a lesson with the Blunderbus. Packed with gunpowder they did their best to hold their ground and did well to shake off the huge recoil!
The winning team was announced and we then made our way to the main house armed with our winning bottles of Prosecco for afternoon tea. The lovely spread didn’t last for long! Filled with cakes, sandwiches and Prosecco everyone was then set to explore the grounds, swimming pool, hotel, and bar! After a couple of hours of relaxing it was time to get ready for our 1920’s group theme for our Sherlock Holmes murder mystery evening to follow.
Later in the evening gathered in the drawing room, much to our surprise, it was then announced by Sherlock himself that a lucky selection of us would be taking part in the performance that evening. Several Imagineers and partners took up the challenge; with fiery passion Jo became ‘The Countess’, Sarah (with saucy conviction) became the ‘Naughty Maid’, her husband Lee gave a sterling performance as ‘The Hotel Owner’, alongside Jen’s husband Michael as the Doorman. George then stormed the floor as ‘The Disgruntled Barman’, accent and all, with Jess in for the long haul as Dr Watson. Our acting talents were displayed throughout the breaks between three courses of a scrumptious traditional Christmas meal, finally climaxing in Lee being revealed as the true murderer. Three awards were given out for the evening’s performances and despite the other half of the guests’ best efforts, Imaginate made a full scoop with Jo, Sarah and Jess receiving the coveted silver star broaches.
The performances were celebrated by drinks later in the evening with cocktails and conversations stretching late into the night. Breakfast was attended by most as the last of the late risers hurried to check out! An amazing time was had by all with everyone thoroughly enjoying a great end to the year. Who knows what next year will bring!