Harry Potter at the Branson Estate
Aug 27, 2003
Mark in the U.K. has let us know about an event at Sir Richard Branson’s estate this past weekend:
Once a year, Sir Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin empire) allows the extensive grounds of his house to be used for a garden party in aid of the British Red Cross. Despite living nearby for many years, this was the first time that I’ve been sufficiently organised to head up the road and have a look at the billionaire’s home.
Wandering around the gardens, I was somewhat taken aback to come across a
note which read something like this attached to a tree stump:
We have to figure out how to rescue Hermione, and quick! Meet me at 3
o’clock this afternoon outside Hagrid’s House.
A little later on, I came a came across another card, this time featuring a
drawing of Potteresque spectacles. Heading over to the stalls, I discovered
that this was all part of a Harry Potter-themed treasure hunt. Despite
being well above the target age, I promptly paid the entry fee and set off
to solve it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to keep the quiz sheet, so I don’t have the
rhyming couplets which gave the locations of the clues, but I shall
endeavor to give details as best I can remember.
1) The first clue referred to four trees in a line and asked what Harry had
lost – clearly this was the picture of his glasses I’d found earlier.
2) The second clue lead to the burnt-out remains of a summer house and
asked me to name the school depicted, and how Harry and Ron got there in
the second book.
3) The third clue was about skateboarding, leading me to a disused
half-pipe (presumably one of the Branson kids caught that particular
bug) and asking who Harry went there with. By the looks of the picture,
this was a certain freed house elf – not something I recall reading
about in the canon, or even fanfiction.
4) The next clue lead to a bench by the lake and simply asked what was
depicted there – the Sorting Hat.
5) Following that, we were lead to the note mentioned above, and asked when
and where Ron wanted to meet, and how many brothers and sisters he had.
6) The clue after that was a censored book cover featuring a boy on a
broomstick swooping to retrieve a dragon’s egg. The question here was
to name both the title and the author.
7) Searching for the last clue-card led me quite literally up the garden
path (and I wasn’t the only one), the couplet being somewhat misleading.
Eventually, I did locate a picture of a grinning Kenneth Branagh. The
question then was to name both the teacher and his subject.
8) The final challenge was to locate a feather lost by Hedwig while she was
taking a bath – while a found a small white feather by the river, I
somehow doubt that it came from a snowy owl.
Having completed the trail successfully (only think how embarrassed I’d
have been had I got something wrong), I claimed my rewards: some candy, a
two sheet “Hogwarts Express” quiz book, and a choice of make-your-own
Gryffindor bookmark or Slytherin door-hanger (both home-printed on a
monochrome inkjet that seemed to be low on black).
All-in-all, it was a fun start to the day, and an unexpected bonus for a