Sunday, 11 November 2012

Half the Story of A Mystery Tour

Years ago, old age pensioners used to like going on "Mystery Tours."  (For all I know, they still do.)  They'd go along to the bus station, pay a small sum and get on a bus marked "Mystery Tour."   They wouldn't know which beauty spot or stately home the bus was taking them to till they arrived.

Well, I took a mystery tour yesterday. It really was one, because I signed a disclaimer to say that I can't tell anyone too much about it yet.  I will tell you as soon as I can, but meanwhile I thought you might find it fun to be told only half the story  -  and see if you can piece together what I was doing. [If you can be bothered, that is  - I appreciate you might conceivably have better things to do with your time...]

When I arrived at 8.30 AM at the Embankment, by the Thames, I had no idea what the trip was going to be about.  All I knew was that I would be one of a group who had a very unusual trip around and about London in a specially chartered single decker bus.

Throughout the day, I snatched a few pics with my mobile phone to give you a feel for the tour, although most of the time our phones it had to be switched off.  So, apologies for the really bad quality!

It was pouring with rain as we got on the bus, and the smeary windows were covered in raindrops.  I spotted some harassed faces from the organisers

To the organisers' frustration, we couldn't set off on our trip for ages, because, believe it or not, the road ahead was unexpectedly blocked by a stream of grandly dressed red-coated top-hatted coachmen and their carriages, passing along in a seemingly endless stream.  The weather was so murky and I was trying to shoot out of the bus window, so I really am sorry for the awful quality of the images.  But lust take my word - they're  coachmen.   Some of the horses were dark....

... others were greys, beautifully groomed.  

There was something almost surreal about the coachmen, and they weren't part of the organisers' plan. 

When the stream of coachmen had finally trotted past, we set off.   We were issued with eye masks - for legal reasons, we were told. 
And after a couple of hours, we stopped at an ASDA supermarket - but not to buy. 

At one point, we got out of the coach to encounter a firmly locked and bolted door

We talked and talked about what we had seen.   The organisers fed us with coffee and snacks and we all had a lot of fun.   Oh, and we spent time looking over a few hedges

And drove through gorgeously autumnal countrified roads.... can you see the colours outside the bus windows? 

But it gets dark early at this time of year, and by the time we headed back to the centre of London again, and crossed the Thames, the sun had gone down..... it was a particularly dramatic sky. 

We arrived back ten hours after we had set out.. Big Ben was towering above, illuminated and reading 6.30 PM. 

 I'd enjoyed the tour but it had been an intense day.. 

So can you make a guess at what we did? I'm looking forward to being able to reveal it all shortly, so if you can't guess, there won't be long to wait.  And it was a trip I will always remember. 

Today is Remembrance Sunday.  I come from an Army family and so I always mentally pause and think of those whose lives were taken and those who were left behind.    Anna of HyperCRYPTICAL has reprinted Wilfred Owen's "Anthem for Doomed Youth" on her interesting blog (click on the link)..  I think Owen should be taught to every teenager. 

Here are some poppies for Remembrance Day.       Interesting that one guy on our tour, aged about 18, had no idea why people were selling poppies and other people were wearing them.   That's really sad.I felt his school must have been poor if it did not explain this to the kids. 


  1. Jenny, You have reminded me, tomorrow I need to remember to tell my little ones about our Veteran's Day. Our holiday will be celebrated tomorrow. They are never to young to remember those who fought for our freedoms. I am fascinated by your mystery.

  2. A mystery tour - what an interesting idea! I have no clue where you would have gone and what you would have seen, so I'm anxiously awaiting your next post.

    Your story does remind me of a friend who every so often used to pack a picnic lunch when her kids were little, get into the car with them, and then her kids would take turns saying, "Right," or "Left," or "Straight," at any intersection they came across. She would follow their instructions and would drive until lunch time and whereever they had ended up, they would have their picnic lunch.

  3. Hello Jenny:
    What a tease you are about your 'Mystery Tour' day. It all sounds to have been enormous fun in spite of the cloak and dagger stuff. We cannot wait to hear what it was all about.

  4. It doesn't sound like much fun to me. I hope you weren't taken to that dark restaurant.

  5. Hmm, sounds like you were on a bus. lol Sorry, I am at a loss but if I had to take a stab at it, you were doing some Royal visiting.

  6. Nice pictures, I like the sunset with beautiful reflections and poppies.

  7. Smashing Fall sky!

    Aloha from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral

    ~ > < } } ( ° >

    > < 3 3 3 ( ' >

    ><}}(°> ~

  8. I have no idea where you went but I can't wait to be let in on the secret. Windsor is a short ride from London, isn't it?

  9. We have mystery trips here too but they're not the same. Instead think of the game 'CLUE' and you've what they're like.
    From what you showed me, not sure I would want to try your type of mystery tour...

  10. I started laughing when I read this post. I have no idea where you went, but now that I'm middle-aged (firmly on my way to dotage), every day is a mystery tour. I forget where I put my glasses and can't see where I'm going, I start off on errands and halfway forget my intended destination ... :p

  11. The idea of a mystery tour is intriguing. The coachmen must have been part of the Lord Mayor's Show, which is always on the Saturday nearest November 9, the traditional date upon which the Lord Mayor takes office and puts on a pageant for the city. The tradition dates back almost 650 years, if i'm remembering correctly.

    So his show held yours up! Well, i can hardly wait for the rest of the story.

  12. I certainly know the significance of the poppies - - but, then, I'm a little older than eighteen (*SMILE*). Here in America, it's Veteran's Day.
    As for the Mystery Tour, I was never good at solving mysteries so I'll eagery await your next installment. While reading about your journey, I felt as if I was on the Orient Express with Poirot.

  13. I really like the idea of the mystery tour, and can't imagine where it took you! I love the poppies - they are not a symbol in the US (I only learnt about them after spending some time in the UK) & I find them very poignant. How sad to know the younger ones are not learning about this anymore.

  14. I have no idea, but it sounds like quite an adventure! :)

  15. a mystery tur sounds absolutely fabulous!
    I think it would be much fun

  16. The night view of the Thames is terrific, Jenny! Looks like you had a nice trip going through autumn colors, though it started with rain. In my country, Japan Travel Bureau also provides mystery tours with hint words like “staying at a cozy Japanese inn with open air hot spring by the seaside”. They are mostly overnight bus tours which includes lunch and snacks. Participants are mostly pensioners like your country. I’m curious what was mystery about the trip.

    Though Japan wasn’t active part of WWI, Britain and Japan were allies, and sadly both were enemies in WWII. Regarding the Remembrance Day, I often see Flanders Fields by John McCrae quoted. I prefer the Anthem for Doomed Youth by Owen, which reminds us of unfathomable emotion of fallen soldiers and human follies. Personally I don’t like it when a poet romanticizes a war and contains patriotic feel. In WWI, the traditional view of war – brave, masculine, fight for your country – changed to mass slaughter that soldiers were killed in a minute.


  17. No idea but the tour sounds interesting though I'm not a fan of joining a tour group like ever. xD

    I want to know more about those coachmen.

  18. If you stopped at ASDA but not to buy, maybe you were given a behind-the-scenes tour and found out lots about how a supermarket is run, where the products come from, how promotional activities are organised, and so on.
    The boy who didn't know about the poppies possibly just never paid attention when the explanation was given - even I know that, and in Germany, poppies are not as much part of the memorial culture as in the UK.

  19. I must admit I've no idea where you went on your mystery tour so looking forward to finding out. That's a lovely photo of the London skyline in the evening.
    As for the 18 year old who had no idea what the poppies were about - I find that absolutely incredible and also very sad.

  20. The issue of eye-masks 'for legal reasons' sounds extremely odd indeed. As for the rest I couldn't even hazard a guess. I love your night sky over London photo though.

  21. How intriguing! Can't wait to hear what you were up to.

    I think you're right that Wilfred Owen should be taught to every teen. I'm appalled that the 18 year old had no idea what it was about. x

  22. Hello, Jenny! I've read with interest and wanted to read the continuation. We have the same Remembrance day in January, the one silence minute in remembrance of those who died in blockade of Saint Petersburg. Thank you for sharing!

  23. I cannot believe an 18 year old did not understand poppies!
    Many schools visit the war graves and the war is taught in most.
    A bit soggy your day out, I hope you had cover somewhere.

  24. No idea where you went - but what a great idea. (My parents took us on 'mystery tours' on holiday. But now I know they were ways to get through a wet day - pack us into the car and let us thing we were seeing something exciting!)

  25. I'm a bit concerned that organisers of a trip from London didn't know that Saturday would be the Lord Mayor's Show and there would be liveried carriages everywhere. Heck, I'm from Yorkshire and even I know that the second weekend in November is one to avoid!

    Well, your destination has a blue plaque but sadly I can't read anything clearer than The XXXXXX Society. So I have no idea where you've been.

  26. It must have been good to last ten hours. Now wondering when you will be able to reveal all! Loved that dramatic picture of the Thames.

  27. A 10 hour tour! With blindfolds! Sworn to (temporary) secrecy! What a grand adventure. Looking forward to the Big Reveal.

  28. I have to admit, I have no idea! Mystery shopping came to mind!! I look forward to finding out!

    I really love your photo of the dramatic skyline!

  29. I've never heard of a tour and you have no clue where you are going! Now, I have been on a few family vacations that no one was sure of the destination! I can't wait until the next installment!

  30. How much fun you had! I would love to go on one of those tours. I think I know where you must've gone...How is your mother?

  31. I'm hooked and looking forward to the answers! I wonder if Stephen is right and it's Windsor. Love the London evening skyline even if I do hate the early darkness...

  32. I can't guess where your tour took you, so I'll be waiting for the reveal. The evening sky was gorgeous!

  33. Yes, it was the Lord Mayor's Show. Looked a bit surreal though. I think they must have been rehearsing.
    My mum is a little better than she was a couple of weeks ago, and thanks to everyone who asked.

  34. Well I was surprised, on behalf of my first reading before I was pulled away, and then I read your part two today before finishing this! oops! :)

  35. Hi Jenny,

    These Mystery Tours are a wonderful concept. I am dying to know what it was you needed to be blindfolded for. I'm sure it's all the more exciting for the wait. Lovely night sky by the way.

    And I often think of the past wars and all the young people the world lost in it. For some reason, I've been watching a lot of old, war-related films lately. One of our favorites is the french comedy-drama, "King of Hearts" from the '60s with Alan Bates. Do you know it? It's a preposterous story, when a town is emptied due to the war, leaving behind people in the mental institution. They come out and have a rocking good time. But when everyone comes back, the town's mental patients run back to their institution and lock the crazy world outside behind them. What a great metaphor for where the craziness really lies.

    Really glad to see from your comment above that your mum is doing better!

    - Jenny

  36. Hi Jenny, what a long day that was and shame about the rain, but interesting obviously! Loved that photo of the dark skies over the Thames - so dramatic!
    You certainly get involved in different things... good on you :D)

  37. the end pic...poppies...are so lovely. I have a painting in my living room with poppies, too. Thanks about our piano player kid...he does well...loves it!

  38. Well, I'm glad you were able to take a few pictures to share without the organizers harassing you about it.


Blog Archive