Marking HRW’s 18th anniversary this month, employees in the EU and US teams enjoyed some time out for the bi-annual company day.

The EU team made a break for it first: leaving the Wallingford and London offices for the day to find a change of scenery at Islington’s Breakin’ Escape Rooms. Joined by Christine Dalzell (Global Managing Director) and Paul Boyce (VP of US Research) from the US, the team split into groups to test their powers of deduction, wagering their freedom in a nerve-wracking game against the clock. Should they fail to unlock the mysteries of their selected rooms within the designated 60-minutes, there would be no unlocking the doors!



For some groups the forfeit of an ‘extended stay’ was perhaps a more appealing prospect than for others. A few fortunate groups may have found themselves at home in the soft furnishings of a certain famous detective’s private study or been enchanted with a lock-in at the library of a renowned wizarding school. The less fortunate of them would have found themselves trapped in a car workshop, a haunted pirate ship, the underground hideout of a crime-busting superhero, or worse, the basement lair of a cannibal professor…

Whatever the stakes, everyone put in a great team effort, rising to the challenge and successfully making it out of their rooms with grace and composure (and just a bit of screaming…). So, happily for HR, there would be no empty desks to fill at either office the next day!

To celebrate their hard-won freedom, the team regrouped and headed to The Alwyne Castle Pub for a late lunch. Escaping from the clutches of evil masterminds had certainly worked up an appetite – and admittedly a bit of a thirst too! A selection of sharing boards filled with classic buffet fare went down a treat, as did the ice-cold beer and wine that accompanied them. Overall, the afternoon provided a welcome opportunity for new colleagues to meet the existing team and for both offices to come together and enjoy a well-deserved catch-up.

Over in Manhattan, the US team staged an escape from the office, crossing the East River to arrive in Long Island City where delicious Chinese food awaited them at Vanessa’s Dumplings. A selection of hot dumplings, pancakes and noodle dishes would provide them with much needed fuel for the day’s main event – axe throwing at Axes and Arrows. After learning proper axe-throwing posture and technique (along with safety, of course), the team split into two groups and let their axes fly…



…Where they flew was a bit unpredictable for some of the team whose target practice proved to be hit and miss (it turns out that axe-throwing is much harder than it looks). But this is not a team that would let a few rogue axes get in the way of a fierce competition. Spurred on by group rivalry, they gave some very impressive throws – including a few bullseyes! Axe-thrower of the afternoon was undoubtedly Paul Boyce who, fresh from his trip to the UK, wowed his group with consistent accurate throws and ultimately helped them gain the highest score. However, the glory was not all Paul’s as he would have to share the limelight with others of the team who won slightly more ‘creative’ accolades, including ‘best bounce-back’ and ‘loudest impact’…!

Although it was definitely more difficult than had been expected, everyone had great fun both throwing and watching the attempts of others. With most team members having successfully landed at least one axe on the boards, it was over to the Fifth Hammer Brewing Company to celebrate. Everyone said a big “cheers!” with a craft beer and some of the team even got a bit adventurous, opting for one of the brewery’s less conventional flavours such as Spicy Mango Lhassi, Ginger Non-blond, and S’mores. And for those who still hadn’t had enough excitement for one day, the competition continued with a round of fast-association card games into the early evening.


By Lea Couchman

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