On the I-Spy look-out for "Ghosts, Mysteries and Legends"

 by Martin Belam, 4 May 2009

If you were puzzled by a couple of my tweets over the weekend, then let me reassure you that I haven't chucked in the web lark and become a professional ghost hunter. However, I am currently on the look-out for spooky stuff. Last week @bigchiefIspy recruited me into his I-Spy Tribe, by sending me an unsolicited copy of the 1995 Michelin "I-Spy Book of Ghosts, Mysteries & Legends".

I-Spy Book of Ghosts, Mysteries and Legends, 1995 Front Cover

It is actually a little trickier than some of the more straightforward I-Spy books, as I need to spot, amongst other things, a witch, a manikin and a banshee.

Introductory front cover text

The book claims it won't be too hard though:

"Ghosts, Mysteries, and Legends are really not difficult to find. They are part of Britain's rich heritage, and most old towns and villages have a local ghost story or some other legend. The public library is a good place to find out about local folklore, and a visit to an historic town always means new mysteries to be discovered. Of course, you do not have to I-Spy a ghost to score points, but you might visit somewhere (The Tower of London, perhaps) which is said to be haunted. You do not even have to travel to enjoy this book: find the Royal Crest to I-Spy a unicorn, and there are mermaids and dragons everywhere...Sometimes, you can use books and films as well, this is the I-Spy book of the imagination "

I spotted a few things during a trip to Cambridge at the weekend, including ink blocks featuring pixies and a wolf, a stone demon, and a pond at Wimpole Home Farm which might have contained a water spirit.

Ink blocks including stamps for a wolf and some pixies

A stone demon

A pond at Wimpole Home Farm

I was most keenly looking out for the topless fairy in the book, but I'm not sure how I'd react if I suddenly saw the Michelin Man looming behind me in the mirror.

I-Spy page on skimpily clad nymphs and fairies

Michelin Man in the mirror

After one weekend I-Spying, I'm on 50 points. According to the back of the book, if I get up to 1,000, I can send 20p off to get my I-Spy badge.

Back cover I-Spy badge offer instructions

Of course, the whole exercise is a lesson in how technology has complicated a simple childhood pastime. I missed two Green Man pubs, a St George and Dragon, and a picture of a griffin on a street sign, simply because we zoomed past too quickly for me to get a photo, upload it to Flickr, notify @bigchiefIspy on Twitter, and score it on my Google Docs spreadsheet.

In 1995, when the book was first published, I'd have just put a tick in the box...

Back cover featuring the Michelin Man and a bat


I think everyone would be scared if the Michelin Man snuck up behind us. I would be equally as scared if a topless fairy did as well.

Hi Martin,

Thought you'd be pleased to know that Michelin have launched a new collection of I-Spy books which hit stores today.

You can visit our website to learn more and purchase copies online.

Now you have even more things to try and find when out and about!

Happy I-Spying.

Keep up to date on my new blog