With all the challenges of the year just gone, many of us would like to escape to another place, perhaps with a few puzzles in a themed setting.
Entrepreneurial and puzzle-loving Claire, 45, and Charlie Pitcher, 48, offer exactly this service with Live Escape Salisbury.
Claire tells us how the escape rooms came to be.
“Charlie comes from a design background, having studied product design at Bournemouth University where we met in 1996. I studied journalism and when I went freelance with my writing career Charlie wanted to go freelance too.
“Later, when we were on holiday in Budapest with our friends we tried our first escape room experience and loved it. This was despite the fact we didn’t escape in the 60 minutes. Afterwards, we were relaxing in the hotel and it dawned on us that we needed to open our own escape rooms.
“We designed our first room Spectre on a low budget and in a cheap space on Castle Street, opening on May 11, 2017.
“A big challenge was getting our neighbours to agree to the change of property usage but we agreed to finish our games by 7pm and sound-proof the building. It was all worth it, because we got lots of accolades and five-star reviews.
“The story for the Spectre escape room is about scientists who try to control the world’s population by nefarious methods and the team that completes the room has to stop the scientists.
“We had to close during 2020 lockdown but it made us get creative with attracting teams. We ran an online escape room by building a spaceship-themed escape room into our dining room. Acting as people’s eyes and ears, using Zoom and cameras to show people what was in the room and then we followed their actions to solve puzzles.
So what does the future hold? “In 2023, we will be opening our new room, the Smallsbury Toy Company in the Cross Keys building where we have our pirate escape rooms.
“We have built a lot of the games already and some puzzles are at the design stage. We are going down the nostalgia road to appeal to people who were children in the 80s and 90s.
“The game will have plenty of imagery and toys from the 80s, like cartoon characters, as well as retro sweets and even animatronics. We are aiming to have the room finished by spring this year and we will be so excited to see people enjoy it.
“We also have vouchers for our current rooms, which make great Christmas gifts.”