Have you ever taken a mystery tour? Or should I re-phrase that, have you ever organised a mystery tour? Whether planning or receiving they are a great experience as I was about to find out.
It was coming up to my first wedding anniversary and I wanted to organise something special to commemorate the occasion. For many months I’d thought of doing something romantic such as taking a few days off and going to Paris or something like that.
This would be great until only a few weeks ago I received notice that I’d been called up for Jury Service. This is pretty much a legal obligation in the UK unless you have strong grounds for an exemption. I dare say a romantic getaway with the wife may not cut it.
Where to go on our mystery tour?
Flying somewhere was not really an option for a short weekend getaway since my wife dislikes flying plus time lost at airports. So it had to be something UK based.
With my thinking hat on I had to come up with something good and something I knew she’d enjoy.
I’d previously spoken to a newly married who told me the first wedding anniversary is called the paper wedding. Apparently it is tradition on a paper wedding anniversary to give paper (tickets to something) as a gift.
So there was my cue. A surprise gift of going to a concert I knew my wife would enjoy, but what was on?
I searched the internet using various well known concert websites. I also checked our diaries looking for a weekend which wouldn’t clash with anything. Perfect I’d found it. A Gary Barlow concert!
My wife is a massive fan of Gary Barlow and virtually swoons every time he is on telly. (For those of you who don’t know who Gary Barlow is (probably the Americans amongst you) he is a singer in a highly successful boy band from the 1990s called Take That.)
How much better would this be if I made this a magical mystery tour and kept my wife in suspense?
The concert was in Newcastle, in the north east of England. At the Metro Radio Arena close to the city centre.
Newcastle is a few hours drive from where we live so I booked a hotel as well. My loyalty card points came in a treat here and saved a lot of money (since I booked an Executive Room). Hotel loyalty cards are similar to airline frequent flyer scheme cards, which I discussed in my book. So I booked the Novotel Newcastle Airport hotel with Accor hotels.
I then reviewed a few restaurant reviews and picked a well regarded place to eat for the pre-show dinner.
Now the fun of the mystery tour really took place. 🙂
I told my bride that we’d be going away for that weekend but I would not tell her where or why.
In fact this whole thing was very exciting for both of us. The mystery tour element was suspense inducing and tantalising for her.
The “I can’t wait to see her face” sensation built it up for me. I did give strict instructions though that once we arrived in our base city she was not to do any research on her phone. She agreed. (With the magic of smart phones now information is so quickly available.)
The mystery tour begins
So the day came and we were both excited.
I really enjoyed the fun of driving off together and she had absolutely no idea where we were going or what for. Frequent texts to her mum of which road we were on meant that the home base shared her excitement.
When we arrived in Newcastle, my bride was very impressed with the room I’d booked. It was also a little novel that this was to be our first wedding anniversary celebration and there was a wedding party in the hotel as we arrived!
With time to settle in I advised on the itinerary. Well not too much of course. I shared the menu of where we were to eat to build up excitement and said what time we had to leave.
Once the time came we were all dolled up and taxied into town.
The restaurant was perfect. The reviews from Top Table were spot on. Service was definitely with a smile, good humour and the gentleman on the reception desk had the most impressive moustache I’ve ever seen!
The food was great too.
Then with the weather just as I hoped we took a walk along the river front, taking in a view of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. It was a pleasant walk on a spring evening now the clocks had gone forward for British Summer Time.
Then with one final corner left to turn to our destination I handed the tickets over to my wife. Immediately her eyes filled with excitement and it was clear this magical mystery tour was a big success.
We were very fortunate that I was able to get us seats literally 5 rows from the stage! This is in an arena which holds 10,000 people.
With us being so close it was magical. We really felt part of the show and were able to take some fabulous pictures even without zooming in.
2 hours of Gary Barlow and Take That hits and we were exhausted.
The night had been resounding success. Yet this was a weekend away so on a slow drive home we took in some of the other highlights of the Newcastle/Gateshead area. We stopped to visit The Angel of the North plus made a little shopping trip to The Metro Centre.
Have you been on a mystery tour? Do you like them?
I’m now convinced that mystery tours are great fun if they are correctly targeted to the interests of the people taking the tour. As an organiser it was fairly easy since I knew what my wife likes.
Have you ever taken a mystery tour? Where did it go and did you like it? Or have you been like me and actually organised a mystery tour? Did it go as well as expected?