An early 6pm start saw committee members of Acklington WI deliver a very efficient business meeting in the car park at Acklington Village Hall.
Speed was of the essence as Graham Cock, long-time friend of the Institute, issued members with his annual local treasure hunt.
The ladies split off into three teams of four before racing, with grace and dignity, to their vehicles of choice.
Two navigators sat in the front of each car, with a pair of code-breakers working in the back seats to decipher the locally-themed cryptic clues.
The 14 instructions dictated the route from the Village Hall to the station, towards Felton, across to Chevington, through Ulgham and past Widdrington.
Members hurriedly noted down telephone numbers, distances, house names, church service times and more, with many of us learning things we had never known about places just minutes from our homes.
The clear skies and beautiful sunshine caused only mild inconvenience to those driving, facing into the sun and having to avoid the many cyclists who seemed to be deliberately positioned to add jeopardy to the treasure hunt.
Despite advice from an inside source that “each clue should be read in turn”, Graham’s crafty final clues took teams frustratingly close to their start point and to Acklington Mart, before racing – while adhering to the speed limits, of course – across to Amble where the hunt was concluded.
One brave pedestrian almost made the ultimate sacrifice by throwing himself in front of one car, having hidden behind a stopped bus. The driver expertly dodged this inconvenient hazard and made it to the finish line at Amble’s Sea & Soil first.
After all three teams reached the venue and made it back from the bar, Graham set to calculating the results.
The atmosphere was jovial, despite the underlying competitive tension between teams, and the two-course set dinner was delicious, with many members splashing out on a third course.
After dessert the results were announced.
Other diners must have been able to sense the anticipation as many listened in, unless they were simply puzzled as to how one man had the captive attention of 12 women.
All teams had successfully completed the treasure hunt in full so a three-way tie was declared.
A tie-breaker question decided worthy winners, who were rewarded with bars of nougat as the real prize had been lost in the post.
Everyone parted in good spirits.