Tuesday 11 July 2017

Madhouse diaries : Little Ships urban orienteering

You may remember me telling you about the town of Dunkirk being transformed into a wartime film set last year - or you may even remember me telling you about Sophie hanging around outside the hotel until she finally got to meet her idol Harry Styles ! Well, Operation Dynamo is big big news in town right now because the film Dunkirk, directed by Christopher Nolan (who Sophie also met), will be released next week. Along with Paris and London, Dunkirk is going to get its very own red carpet film première, and all the stars of the film will be back in town. To mark the occasion, there are lots of Operation Dynamo activities going on, including an urban orienteering challenge.

We went along for a look and joined in on the kids' version - a treasure trail around town, looking for the answers to clues (for example, what colour is the slide in the school playground? what is the name of the villa at n° 119?). Each clue eliminated a fake name from a list, allowing us to discover the name of one of the real skippers of the Little Ships. (The Little Ships were the small vessels that crossed the Channel to help rescue thousands of soldiers trapped on the beaches during the Evacuation of Dunkirk, also known as Operation Dynamo. They come back every year to commemorate the event - click through to see last year's event.)

Some of the clues were simple - how many figures were on the statues showing injured soldiers and how many boats are there on the front of this house?

The trail took us down the seafront, where they have installed the brightly coloured beach huts for the summer season.

These ones are my favourites, with their buxom bathing beauties !

We also discovered a giant chess board that has recently been installed.

The little touristy train that takes you along the seafront drove past and beeped.

We saw pirates (well, one ... and it's a nightclub !) and an "English house" on the map turned out to be a guest house, possibly with English owners, as it has signs in English, and everything from a gnome on a toilet to fake parrots and butterflies. It's such a quirky place, I'm tempted to hide a geocache here.

The clue was to find what was at the bottom of the steps and the answer was ... a cat. This eliminated a fake skipper called William Catt. It was really well thought out.

We had to count the number of skaters on the sign for the new skating rink that will soon be built.

We also discovered a Polish church (another possible location for a geocache - I always like to highlight places of interest that many people don't know about).

Sophie ended up with a real rose to go with the ones on her top !

And we looked at the jetty (in the distance) that will be featuring in the film.

At the end, we got a souvenir photo to say that we had found the right answer. I was in my element because it was just like geocaching without the caches !

Country Kids


  1. This sounds like a fab activity to do as a family, it's great to encourage learning about the local history. I love to do these sort of local treasure hunts with the kids, I bet your lot loved discovering the clues that led to finding the right answer. I'm sure mine would love to be going to the premiere!

    Thanks for linking up with me in #CountryKids.

    1. They were giving out bracelets to the fanzone to be next to the red carpet tomorrow night from 3.30pm onwards. Sophie went to start queueing at 7.30am and is over the moon because she got a gold one !

  2. How fantastic that all this has gone into promoting the film. Sounds like it will be certainly even more interesting for tourists and very well thought out. Glad your children have had so much fun from it. #countrykids

    1. To be fair, a lot of it existed already but they have put more effort into promoting it all. The film is a huge draw for tourists too :)

  3. Oh wow!! It looks fantastic, our town never does anything like this, and meeting Harry Styles too, I bet she was over the moon xxx

    1. She met him again this week when he came back for the avant première/red carpet photo shoot for the Dunkirk film - we went to see it last night, it's great to see it after seeing the film set and the filming going on in town. So much work for just a few scenes though !

  4. This sounds like a brilliant treasure hunt really thought through! Hope the red carpet event goes well and you get to meet their idols again. Monkey loves those tourist trains!! #countrykids

    1. She didn't get a selfie or an autograph with Harry Styles but she did get lots of photos of him, including one where he waved at her, plus some selfies with the other actors :)


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