Giving your brain a bit of mental stimulation is always healthy - it’s in fact been proven to help keep your memory ticking along as you get into the twilight years of your life! For some people, cracking codes and puzzles are some of the most interesting hobbies. But once you’ve raided every escape room and completed every Sudoku, it can be hard to find something super niche.
Fortunately, I’ve done some digging and managed to scout out some other things that may be right up your street. So, let’s get cracking!
...I’ll see myself out
Looking to gift someone something unique? Especially someone who loves nothing more than puzzles? Here’s the perfect thing.
The Enigmagram is a new way of sending a letter to someone. You can pass on a message to whomever you please and for any occasion, but once your recipient receives it in the post, they’ll first have to solve the puzzles contained within to unveil the message.
I was actually gifted one of these babies myself, and let me tell you it certainly put my brain to the test. My envelope contained eleven different clues that varied in difficulty and nature. From number sequences, to visual postcards and even word searches.
Worried about not solving it? No problem - I actually had a little difficulty myself. There’s a site to help give you clues on each of the puzzles, or if you’re really stuck, give you the answer to open your message. But where’s the fun in that?!
The GCHQ puzzle book
I picked up this unique book at a penguin careers event that I went to a few years ago, but it’s truly a great fit for this list, especially if you’re looking for something that you can take on the go for your daily commute, or to kill time whilst you're on your travels.
Think you’ve got the smarts to solve the same codes as those that worked on the enigma machine? Well put your skills to the test with The GCHQ Puzzle Book. And I’m not kidding, this is a difficult book - some have even declared it the trickiest one out there!
The good news is that there’s more puzzles than you can shake a stick at, so you can tackle whichever you’re feeling like at your own pace. I was personally a bit of a fan of the ‘Celebrity Sudoku’ because I’m a bit of a sucker for visual things, but that’s just my preference.
Not feeling like putting your brain to work all the time? Well you don’t have to, because this book is filled with all kinds of other stuff besides puzzles. With photography and historical information on encryption, you can fill your brain with all the coding facts that you desire. Plus, if you get through this book, there's a sequel available to give you even more fun.
Top Secret at The Science Museum
Have you ever made it along to one of the London museum ‘lates’ before? They’re basically events where the museums open after hours and have all kinds of quirky activities on, including discos, drinks, talks and much more. It’s where I experienced the Harry Potter: History of Magic exhibition.
My friends and I went along to a late event at the Science Museum for a space-themed night, but ended up veering off course into the section all about code-breaking. Top Secret explores intelligence and security over the past century, including rare items like hand written written letters from Bletchley Park, and even unseen items, courtesy of the Science Museum collection and GCHQ.
My favourite part of the whole experience were the interactive puzzles, in which you got to experience lots of different mind-boggling exercises. From guessing patterns, to decoding secret messages, to attempting to crack a padlock. We were all scrambling our brains to work out every puzzle.
If you’re looking for something that gets you out of the house - and love a bit of history on the side - then this is the one for you. Plus, you can check out everything else that the Science Museum has to offer (which is a LOT), or even make a day out of it and pop next door to the Natural History Museum. Yay for culture!
There's a special museum late on 25 September which is centred around the Top Secret exhibition. Certainly one not to miss if you're interested. And best of all, entry to this exhibition is free, baby!