Sunday, September 12, 2021

Foiled Run

Cath and I headed out to Shepherds Lookout for a change of scenery intending to do a loop around Uriarra. We paused at the lookout to soak up the beautiful view of the Murrumbidgee, noting a lone runner making their way along a track on the northside. Never contemplating going that way, we decided next time we would investigate and go exploring. 

Continuing on the the single track, we descended the steep slope to the Molonglo river. What we didn't anticipate was the water flowing over the walkway! Bravely we took our shoes off and decided to wade across, however we soon realised that the water was deeper than expected and flowing quickly plus it was extremely cold so we pulled the plug! 


Our feet appreciated the warmth of our socks and shoes as we discussed possible options. There were only two and both involved ascending the steep slope we had just come down! At the top we decided to try to locate the trail that the runner we saw from the lookout was on and follow it.

On the trail back towards the carpark, we climbed the fence and cut through a bush section before stumbling across the vehicle track. It meandered through a paddock and down to the Murrumbidgee river. We ran adjacent to the river before retracing our steps. It was definitely a lovely chance finding and we intend to explore further on this side at a later date.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Spring in the Garden

A small window of recent warm sunshine announces that spring is on the way. Of course, it is always a false sense of security as the winter weather returns a week later for one last blast chill. The fire is still going as our heater has decided it's been overworked and no longer wants to turn on.

Anyway colour creeping into our garden is always a blessing to see. I picked the last of the lemons and gave the tree a good prune.



Saturday, September 4, 2021

Aston Cres Escape Room

Lockdown is dragging on and Father's Day was coming up. Andy doesn't like the materialistic side of Father's Day, so I wondering what we could do instead. Criteria included at home as we can't really go far, source materials from exisiting stuff at home as we can't go anywhere to get things and something fun to engage the family! And then I had my lightbulb moment of DIY escape room.

Having done a few escape rooms, I knew the general routine of how they work. All I would need was a theme and puzzle ideas and so I began my research. With limited supplies and restrictions in room design, it was tough going. I gathered ideas for puzzles, then wondered how to piece them all together.

After a few days of pondering, the Aston Cres Escape room was taking shape. I began printing out clues and puzzles and collecting the necessary equipment. I hit several road blocks along the way forcing me to rethink and change my original plans. The whole time, I was being very cautious to ensure none of the family could see what I was up to. They had no idea and were becoming very suspicious of my actions.

Saturday was absolutely miserable with constant rain. With nothing much to do, I asked the family if they wanted to do my surprise - an escape room. They all were eager, so after lunch, I banished them all to their respective rooms while I set up the lounge area.

They were then invited to sit on the couch and I presented them with their first clue -

Using the nearby conveniently placed mirror, they read the note, chuckled and began searching for more clues.

The note said - 

You and your father have been kidnapped and are being held hostage by Anti Father’s Day fanatics. Negotiations to secure your release have stalled. The fanatics are demanding a huge amount of money and if this is not paid within the hour, the house you are in will be blown up.

Unbeknownst to your kidnappers, we were able to infiltrate the dilapidated house they have chosen to lock you in and hide a key. We will continue on with negotiations but if you are able to locate the key….



A box of pins with the label 'Good to pop with' gave them a clue to popping the balloons. Once popped, each ballon contained a coloured number. These decoded by identifying the order that the coloured rings (hidden around the room) with seemingly randoms letters needed to be put on the toilet roll that then spelt out the next clue.



As this was being nutted out, coloured pieces of pie shapes each with it's own individual letter were also picked up from around the room with everyone wondering how all these coloured things fitted together. The pie pieces of course were a puzzle in itself. With the pie key hidden under the pot plant, the gang would eventually assemble the pieces on the key to spell out INSIDE. The relevance of this word remained a mystery until the end.

Back to the the mystery...Jacket pocket was the identified word from the toilet roll cipher...and scrunched up inside the said pocket was this next puzzle...




One letter is correct and well placed




One letter is correct but wrong placed




Two letters are correct but wrong placed




Nothing is correct




One letter is correct but wrong placed









Of course the correct answer was TEA. And inside the tea canister was a magnifying glass (decoy) and 

The above message is written in pigpen cipher. The decoder key which identifies the letters that each symbol represents was locked inside one of the wooden boxes. The key to the unlock and gain access to the wooden boxes was hidden in the room. These were easily found :) 

Unscrambling the message above was the riddle -

What has hands but no arms and a face but no eyes?

Of course this referred to a clock. Taped to the back of the clock hanging on the wall was a key. Unfortunately, while Andy and Ella were decoding this message, Katy found the key before it was solved. 

Meanwhile inside the other wooden box was the pieces of a tangram. When the tangram pieces were put in the shape of a house, you could read the word INDI! The point was that they didn't know what shape it should be but Ella sat down to try to figure it out.

Katy and Andy used the key from the back of the clock to open the jewellery box to find a piece of paper and torch. On illuminating the paper the word family could be read (I wrote that in lemon juice but it didn't come out as good as I had hoped). This clue lead Katy to the a tiny message taped to the bottom of the frame of a family photo.

Here was a cryptic message with reference to my phone.  In order to access my phone (I had changed the passcode), they needed to locate the symbols taped to furniture within the room; count each symbol and put them in the order listed in the cryptic message. This would then unlock my phone to reveal that the wallpaper photo was a tangram photo of a house.


However Katy and Andy didn't solve this one before Ella solved the tangram puzzle by herself. Indi was chased around the house and eventually caught. Taped on to her collar was another puzzle -

Inspired by learning about early telecommunication and morse code at Haemlin Pool on our recent West Coast Wander Trip, the gang was able to decode this as they had already found a. copy of the International Morse Code hidden within the pages of the book on the coffee table.

And so the final word together with the first revealed where the hidden key was located -


A quick search of the pillows on the coach found the said the key and the gang escaped the Anti Fathers Day Fanatics! Happy Father's Day Andy!!

Friday, September 3, 2021

Skater Chick

These are interesting times which have allowed new ideas to emerge and be explored especially by Katy. After trying out Aoife's new skateboard, Katy was hooked and immediately researched one to buy. It took a few days deciding on options before an order was placed.

The said skateboard arrived on Friday afternoon in pieces. Having finished school for the day, Katy, with Andy's assistance hopped straight into building it on the deck in the sunshine. Meanwhile Ella was on a physio telehealth call with Cathy while I was reading a book and Indi was lazing around. Some 15 minutes later and hey presto the board was ready to use.

The gang headed around to the smooth surface of the driveway. It was here that Andy revealed details of his youth and skating days. His days were numbered as a skater as the only skate park in Canberra was an hour bus trip away! Despite this he gave Katy's board a go before disappearing back to work for another zoom meeting!

The arrival of Katy's skateboard brought laughter and enthusiasm back into our house which made for a nice change.