The Time Trap Escape Rooms, Reading
So, last Thursday. We travelled back to medieval England on a secret mission, had 60 minutes shut in a room trying to solve clues and had to complete the mission before the time warp became unstable and had to go home. Welcome to Time Trap Escape Rooms, in the centre of Reading town centre.
This has nothing to do with food, wellness or health. What the heck are you going on about, Jo?
See? I knew it.
But it does.
Imagine you are whizzed back in a time warp to the twelfth century. Your job is to get into the castle, find the throne room and recover the crown for the rightful heir to England's throne, in the middle of all out civil war.
Not the usual way I'd spend a Thursday afternoon, but my goodness it was fantastic.
If you've ever watched the TV show The Crystal Maze, you'll kind of know what I'm on about. Clues can be mental or physical. You can play with friends or family. Everything you need to solve the puzzles is in the room with you.
We played 'Rebellion: 1136' at Time Trap Escape Rooms, which can be found just around the corner from Reading's town hall and the Queen Victoria statue (a 5 minute walk from the train station). You enter the building and you are briefed on your mission. Once you enter the room, it really does feel like you've gone back in time. All the props are authentic and the room comes complete with sounds like the plinky plonk dripping noises you'd hear outside a castle wall and kind of windy noises, like a gale blowing around turrets. It's pretty immersive stuff.
Thankfully, you're given a 21st-century bit of kit to take in with you, which includes an iPad - where your hosts can send you tips if you're really getting stuck, to help you along. We played as a family - so there was my husband and I, along with our two daughters, aged 12 and 9. We all agreed we got so much out of the hour. We went home excited and didn't stop talking about it for about three days.
Seriously, there was no other conversation in the house.
And here's why.
You forget you have an actual real life, outside
You go into that room and nothing else matters. All you know is that the clock is ticking with every second and you have an hour to get as many clues solved as possible. You don't know how many clues there are, or how many puzzles you need to solve before you get to finish your mission. It's a bit like how I always explain yoga - you don't ever worry about paying the electricity bill while you're wobbling about trying to balance on one leg. Well, we forgot we even had an outside world for that hour. Probably better than meditation. Probably. But a bit more frantic.
I'm not kidding. When you've just spent the best part of a precious 10 minutes solving a puzzle that gives you a way to get into the next room, the feeling you get when you accomplish it and see everything fall into place is just incredible. I can see how these escape rooms are becoming so addictive. You also have quite a laugh doing it, figuring out what to do. So much fun. We wished it could have been two hours. Then we might have finished it. We didn't complete the mission (we just had one puzzle left to do), but we didn't care. We had so much fun.
I look at my husband and daughters differently now. I see that my 12 year old is really good at solving complicated mental problems with her clearly huge brain. My husband is great at figuring out what he needs to do with a seemingly unrelated group of objects. My 9 year old got straight in, jotting down notes and clues. I actually considered myself the one with the least common sense in the family before we went in, but I managed to figure out what to do quite a lot of the time, too. This gave me a boost in confidence. Solving problems together and knowing we had to work as a team to finish it, worked so well.
It gets you moving
I know - with 100% certainty - that if we hadn't been in the Time Trap Escape Rooms, I would probably have been lounging on the sofa reading my book, while my husband and kids gawped at their iPads, phones or the telly. This got us out of the house and into a completely brand new experience for all of us. We had to interact with each other. We had to move about and get physical (not giving away any spoilers here, folks). We had to engage brains like we hadn't done since the start of the summer holidays. We went in, kind of lethargic and with the attitude like we'd just give it a go, and we came out buzzing and really excited. I mean, there's no competition with a video game on a screen when you can actually enter the game in real life, is there?
I'd totally recommend the Time Trap Escape Rooms - you won't be disappointed. As I mentioned, it's easy to get to if you arrive by train, and it's right in the centre of Reading. We're totally hooked. We want to go back again to see if we can actually complete the mission this time - and we're eagerly awaiting the Victorian-themed room they're opening later in the autumn.
For more details, and to book, visit Time Trap Escape Rooms website.
Have you ever done an escape room? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below (no spoilers though, please!)...