An eggceedingly eggcellent eggspedition

As mentioned last week, the Big Egg Hunt has become something of an obsession over the last fortnight. In fact, last Tuesday my student group heartily mocked me for my enthusiasm and excitement (eggcitement?) for the approaching girls’ day out. But only part of my excitement was owing to the eggs – the rest was the thought of spending a day with some of my favourite people.

We planned carefully. Zones were selected according to maximum egg potential (Mayfair – 47 eggs) and proximity to other zones (Green Park, Piccadilly & Carnaby were all within walking distance of Mayfair) and egg related food was gathered. Not only did we have egg shaped cookies baked by yours truly, but there were mini-eggs aplenty, scotch eggs, Haribo eggs, egg salad and grapes. Yes grapes – they’re egg shaped, surely?

London streets were walked for around 8 hours and 66 eggs were discovered – not too shabby, I feel! The statue game was continued; the first picnic of the year was held; and Marks & Spencers’ Giant Chocolate Buttons were discovered – all in all a pretty eggcellent day…

 The statue game simply never grows old…
Were you aware of giant buttons? They’re simply amaaazing! 

The Piccadilly zone. Note the Dowager Downton egg – in Fortnum & Masons, naturally.
(The black square represents the one missing in Burlington Arcade. Apparently, the artist hasn’t quite got round to finishing it yet.)

I’ve learnt quite a lot since last week’s tips. Not least that it helps to have a strategy. If I were to do Saturday all over again (which I would at the blink of an eye, as long as I had the same company and weather), I would have planned out a route for the Mayfair zone in order to catch the eggs in a logical order. Choosing the largest zone in terms of egg numbers was a good idea, but it was hard work – hours and hours of it – and we only managed three-quarters of them. Realising we’d come full circle and that stray eggs were far away was somewhat disheartening. [Though me and Mim did have an encounter with Bill Nighy, which more than made up for it!]

Further tips include:
  • When all else fails, check Flickr. Typing in the egg’s number and name will usually yield a photo – from which further clues can be gleaned. I first realised this when hunting in Selfridges. It’s a big place and finding eggs was like the proverbial needle – to stalk the whole shop would be a daunting task, so I worked out more precise locations from the photos online.
  • The same tool can also give hints to further information. For example, one of our missing Mayfair eggs turned out to be deep in the bowels of a menswear store – hence our not spotting it through a window.
  • Talk to people! We passed many other groups on the same mission and many provided handy hints as to where the next egg was. On the same note, when visiting large stores, don’t be afraid to ask staff. They may not provide the right information, but ask around and you’ll get there.
  • Visit the Fabergé store in Mayfair. Fabergé sponsors the hunt and were so hospitable – letting us hold the grand prize (a £100,000 bejewelled egg) and chatting with us for quite a while.
  • Make the most of having an excuse to enter swanky hotels. I was entranced by Claridges, anyone want to take me to tea there??
Anyway, it was all generally fabulous, as Jenni’s lovely video shows perfectly. I highly recommend it, if only for Mim’s comedy routine with a statue of Churchill and my chocolate button antics…

An eggcellent obsession

Cities appear to be developing a curious passion for littering their streets with pieces of themed sculpture. Two years ago, London had the elephant hunt. Last summer Bristol had an invasion of gorillas. This Lent, London is playing host to the Big Egg Hunt.

I first became aware of it before Christmas, when a friend whose love of the elephants had bordered upon obsessive (and who’d made a special trip to Bristol just to see the gorillas) told me about it and set about organising a Girls Day Out to egg hunt. That date is now just days away (this Saturday), but living in central London meant that I’ve been conducting my own hunt simply through my day-to-day meanderings through the city.

Unlike the Elephants, the eggs are in 12 specific zones – but it just so happens that at least three of these (Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square and Knightsbridge) are parts of town that I’m required to pass through at least weekly, so having found a few by chance, I soon felt compelled to intentionally seek them out. Some friends have moaned that I’m getting ahead of those who’ll be hunting this weekend, but I argue that I stand a realistic chance of finding all 209 – the out of towners do not. I am saving the zones we’re planning to hit, but that’s my limit.

The useful thing about the zones is that it gives excellent parameters for London walks – on Saturday my aim was to try and complete the Southbank zone in a morning, leaving early enough (i.e. just after 10am) that it would still be fairly tourist-free. By the time I arrived at the RFH to study, I’d found 13 of the zone’s 16 eggs. Perhaps indicating the level my obsession had already got to, I then spent 20 minutes cross-referencing the online maps with the mobile site and the photos I’d already taken in order to find the missing ones, plus the remaining eggs in Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square. I think I now can officially be labelled ‘obsessed’. Anyway, it paid off. By lunchtime I had the whole zone:

In case you’re wondering, top right is the ‘invisible egg’. No, I don’t get it either…

However, with just one to go, I became despondent. A third National Theatre egg seemed impossible to find. I hunted high and low, but couldn’t find it anywhere. I climbed the steps to Waterloo Bridge intent on at least finding more Covent Garden eggs, but took one final look over my shoulder at the NT behind me…

…and there it was! Can you see it? Third level up (which is actually the fourth, you can’t see the ground floor in the photo) and shining in the sun. I was ridiculously delighted and felt like I’d really achieved something.

If you’re inspired to actively look for them yourself, rather than just hope that you stumble upon them, then here’s some tips I’ve come up with so far:

  • Print off the maps and make particular note of whether eggs are indoors or outdoors. Tick them off as you go along, so you know which ones you’ve found. [The mobile version of the site doesn’t include this part of the map, annoyingly, so you need it before you head out!] 
  • Use Google maps to hunt for locations mentioned on the map that you’re unsure of.
  • Look above you as well as around you. 
  • Follow the Big Egg Hunt on Facebook if you want hints on where to find Wally the travelling egg on any particular day. 
  • Go to the egg shop in Selfridges. (It’s next to 4 of the eggs, so you’d kill 2 birds with one stone…)
  • If you’re lacking in time, choose one of the smaller zones – like Carnaby Street, St Christopher’s Place or the Southbank. Don’t choose Covent Garden! I’ve now hunted three times in that area and haven’t found them all.
  • If you can only look at weekends, choose quieter zones like the City or the parks. 
Chances are I’ll report back after Saturday’s corporate hunting experience, if only to recommend egg-based snacks to help make it a truly eggcellent eggsperience…