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We’re off to join Karen and Ralph for the weekend in Matlock, then tonight, we’re going to Hardwick Hall to solve one of their murder mysterys. We left about 9am and got to theirs just after 11 – a good journey! We had a lazy lunch of Indian nibbles and then whilst the girls went off shopping, Ralph and I switched to ‘nerd-mode’ and spent time looking into the technology behind streamed data in the shape of the BBC iPlayer… on Ralph’s TV!

5.00pm: Just time for a snifter of something alcoholic before taking the 30-40 minute drive to Hardwick Hall. In fact, the snifter turned out to be pink champagne with strawberries – nice! We also managed to squeeze in a bit of a George Michael concert on Blu-ray DVD.

5.30pm: We all jumped in Ralph’s car and headed for Hardwick Hall. On  arriving, we parked up and took the short walk to the the main entrance. There were plenty of staff on duty (It’s National Trust) and we were quickly ushered into position awaiting the ‘murder briefing’. Having never done one of these before, we weren’t sure what to expect – as it turned out, the whole thing was excellent! National Trust had cleverly integrated a tour of the Hall into the murder-mystery event. In each room there was a character who introduced themselves and told us a little about how they were involved (or not) in the crime.

The acting was all top-notch – and some were outstanding! There was even a full three-course meal where in between the food, we had the opportunity to interrogate the characters. They were brilliant and how they managed to stay in character throughout, I don’t know – great stuff!

9.15pm: With the interrogations now over, it was left to Lovelock T Barratt to ask for all our views and gradually eliminate the innocents. I must admit, the actor playing Lovelock kept us all on the edge of our seats and did a splendid job.

9.55pm: One person managed to guess the culprit and in a bizarre twist, when the murderer was confronted at the end of the event, all the lights dimmed and when they came up again, the murderer was lying on the floor – having died of a heart attack!

All-in-all, this was a BRILLIANT evening. I had a feeling it might be a bit cheesy, but it was just superb. The fact that it was held at night gave the Hall a more spooky atmosphere – and all this just added to the ambience. The food was excellent and the acting totally professional. Well done NT – we had a great time!

10.30pm: Just time for a boozy night-cap, before crashing-out.

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