The CSI deal was for a night in the sumptious Down Hall with dinner and breakfast included. The dinner also included the case files of the poor late lamented Lord.
The journey to Down Hall was a nightmare. Totally our fault as we decided in our infinite wisdom that Mothers Day would be an excellent day to do a trip. In our defence, we didn’t KNOW it was Mother’s Day when we booked it. Coincidentally I bet my mother would have loved this trip, but I digress.
After taking around 3 hours for an hour’s trip we arrived only vaguely stressed. It didn’t help that the road that the Sat Nav wanted to send us down was closed and it refused to give us another direction. Note to Sat Nav makers, ‘Turn back now’ is not helpful when the road is closed and you are faced with the choice of going in two directions. As it turns out we are excellent navigators as we chose the right direction. Hah, who needs maps, a toss of the coin can do wonders.
We parked in the complimentary car park and first impressions had us impressed with the building. I would include lots of pictures here but I was using my phone camera which seems to have had a hissy fit and produced quite bad pictures but I will soldier on with the review and beg for your forgiveness.
As I mentioned Down Hall is quite impressive. If you ever had delusions of being Lord or Lady Muck then this is the place to have them. The reception however was confusing with two counters and no idea if we were skipping the queue but anyway no-one complained and we were given our keys quite quickly. Quite efficient really.
How can I say this, the room was gorgeous but to my horror there was one double bed. I am used to posh and semi-posh hotels having two beds in the room and was a little put out, but my friend and I have been friends for years so I put aside my prudishness away for the night. I mean what was I expecting? Her to turn into some sort of bed monster in the night? Who knows? I can be weird sometimes.
I should probably mention the lift/elevator to the upper floor. This was almost worth the trip. The walls looked like they were lined with books. As a librarian and author I loved it. Way to go Down Hall, you got that bit sooo right.
Whe we arrived in our room we immediately looked to see what sort of view we had, which you can see for yourselves to the left of this post. We thought it was quite nice but the bathroom was enormous and even more impressive.
Down Hall also (apparently) has a spa. I hadn’t really noticed this when I booked the CSI weekend but I was quite excited when my friend told me and made sure I packed a swim suit. I have never been so disappointed in my life.
First we went down to get the code for the Spa. Why can’t they give this to people during check-in? Heaven only knows, maybe it is to discourage people from using it?
We went down to reception and ahh, there was a wedding on. I love weddings but I wasn’t going to this one and sort of resented losing half an hour of my life waiting for the queue for the receptionists to go down just to get access to a spa, which a) could have been given at checkin or b) put in the guest book in the room.
Eventually we got what we needed and were given directions to the spa. Problem number 2, the signage was next to useless, we had to ask three employees to find the way to get to it. You have to go through a lounge and go outside through the fire doors, walk outside for a minute and reenter the connected building.
Now I understand the info said there was nowhere to put your stuff in the changing rooms, but there was nowhere to put anything! The changing room for the ladies was tiny. There was a Sauna, also on the small side and a pool which was really just a puddle full of excitable children. We went tnto the Sauna and I backed out of trying the pool, I headed back up to the room while my friend jostled for space in the pool.
To be fair you wouldn’t go to Down Hall for the Spa, so any criticism should be taken in context with the rest of the trip. The evening started at 7.30 and we arrived on time, and waited, …and waited in the bar in the room across the hall for it to start.
The prices were average London prices, we worked it out from the drinks we had bought the night before, so no worries about that, we were expecting it. However there were no chairs and to be frank I was getting a bit grumpy. I don’t like standing for any length of time and although those drinks were reasonably priced for London, I wasn’t used to them and was getting more frustrated and annoyed by the minute. It began to feel like a tactic to get more money out of us. I don’t mind paying if it is part of the evening but frankly it was boring. Standing up in a room of strangers wasn’t conducive to chatting for us.
The Dinner and event!
Then the doors opened and the night began.
The event was put together from a guy from Right Angle. It was very well organised. As soon as they took over the evening, it went without a hitch. We piled in, all trying to grab a chair that we could sit next to our friends and we introduced ourselves to our new team mates who were all interesting people and the meal was off to a swimmingly good start – unlike the swimming pool part earlier. Seriously I wouldn’t have been this bitter if the hotel hadn’t made us wait for an inordinate amount of time to get a poxy code.
Anyway, there was a metal case in the centre of the table and a folder with information on the crime, witness statements and other evidence. The more enterprising of our team had already opened them and were coming out with theories before we actually sat down!
The event began with an explanation of who the organiser was and how the night would progress. I was very excited to find I was going to take my own fingerprints! Unfortunately I can’t remember if the starter arrived first or if we did the finger prints first. In fact I can’t remember the order of the food vs parts of the evening at all! Maybe we had too much red wine? The starter was cheese tart, which I couldn’t have, being highly allergic to milk, so I had a fig/melon combo – yuk. I ate it though because I was hungry but I have never wished I could eat cheese more than then.
The fingerprints part was brilliant. We all had a piece of paper with a square for each finger and we shared a pot of ink. We put our fingers in the pots and then rolled it onto the paper. My friend accidentally rolled the tips of her fingers but she soon had the knack. We then compared the fingerprints with patterns on a laminated sheet.
The main meal, thankfully was the same as everyone else’s and I thought it was delicious. There were complaints from around the table that the food was dry, but I say, Bah Humbug, I LIKE dry chicken. Stick that up your pipe and smoke it.
On our chair when we arrived we were given white boiler suits which we were allowed to keep. Along with the fetching suite, was a mask and gloves. Another one of my allergies came into play. It’s like a computer game, you think you are doing well, and you go back a level. Still, what amazed me was, the organiser was prepared for this. He produced a pair of blue latex free gloves. What a star!
In the corner of the room was a CSI crime area as seen in the picture at the top of this post. We were to pick up a piece from the crime area and take it back to our table. We would then along with the other evidence in the case put them through some forensic tests. Cool huh?
I got a saucer and swizzled some powder on to the saucer. A pair of fingerprints appeared as if by magic. The team then worked out whose fingerprints they were. We also had a hammer and various other pieces.
There were hairs in an evidence bag and one of our team members went to discover what they belonged to. There were two netbooks set up in the corner and I am assuming some sort of scanning or magnifying equipment was there. That part of the room was packed so I couldn’t get close enough to see.
The evening progressed and the pudding arrived! Humph, I got blackcurrent sorbet, which I actually thought was gone off raspberry until someone pointed out what it was – oops.
Then the big reveal. Who killed who. Who did the fingerprints belong to and why was he killed?
I won’t give away the answers in case it is the same the next time they do it but not one table got the answers completely correct! Here’s a hint though, wild rabbits do not have all white hair apparently.
So in all in all, a thoroughly enjoyable event and one I would go to again, possibly with my husband or mum. If you have any reservations, don’t listen to them – just go for it – it’s a laugh.