Memory challenges in lockdown

For many reasons I’ve allowed my memory work to lapse over the past 12 months and am now trying to get back into it. (I recently had my 66th birthday and feel the need to give my brain a good kicking!)

Since starting again, I haven’t had much trouble memorising as such, it’s more a case that my speed has gone. (Not that I was that fast to begin with!)

What I am having fun with is setting myself daily challenges. I live in a UK village and enjoy going for early-morning walks (4-7 miles) where I rarely, if ever, meet anyone. For the last couple of weeks, before I set out each morning, I shuffle a pack of cards and, by the time I return home, I’ve generally memorised them. (Sometimes I get them all on the first run-through, more often than not I need two goes - but I’m happy with that.)

I also have Number cards (from an old Dominic O’Brien memory kit) and will work through those, too, if I go for a second walk - memorising up to a hundred numbers at a time.

Apart from giving me a regular mental work-out with the cards (playing and numbered), what this exercise has also done is encourage me to revisit/expand my memory palaces. I use three locations, so can regularly rotate them. However, in order to double up on my capacity, I’ve been creating more loci within each location so that, effectively, I now have six memory palaces where, previously, I only had three.

As well as cards, I’ve set myself the challenge of memorising the first 1000 digits of Pi. My problem here may be using loci that I don’t use for anything else. Again, this has forced me to be creative.

I’ve used several loci in my garden (which I’d never used before). I’ve also used the gardens of the two people who live either side of me and am planning to make use of the route I walk each morning. (It’s certainly forced me to become more observant - spotting gates, defects in the road, drains, unusual sights en route.)

So far, I’ve memorised 400 digits of Pi in the past three days (as well as a different pack of cards each morning). I find that recalling the numbers is the hard part. Not because I can’t remember them but because I have to go over the list so many times each day to reinforce my progress. That part is rather dull!

For the first 100 numbers, I placed 4 numbers at every location, but, since then, I now drop off 6. (That was partly to cut down on my loci. I thought it would be hard, but I use POA (or a version of it). I wouldn’t do this I was trying to work at speed, but for slow work it seems to work very well for me.)

Anyhow, I thought I’d share this experience. It’s great to be ‘memorising’ again, even if I am painfully slow. I plan to work on my speed at some time, but, just now, I feel the hours I’m putting in can only improve my ability to create stories/familiarise myself with my various loci.

I hope everyone is keeping safe and well!

All the best,



Nice! Are there other challenges you are thinking about doing?


so good challenge! hope you will get the best reults!


Hi. I thought I might have a go at memorising all the British Prime Ministers/Kings and Queens - and all the US Presidents. But probably not until I’ve managed as many Pi numbers (hopefully 1000) as I can.

How about you?


Thanks, Nick. I’ll do my best! :slight_smile:

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Oh those are good things to memorize! Good luck on a 1000 digits. I think the most I got was 312.

Hmm I am learning Japanese so that is a big challenge! I also think I am going to memorize a trivia book haha I am always looking for new things to memorize.


There’s a great book by Ed Cooke called Remember Remember where he describes stories incorporating memory techniques to remember all the English Kings and Queens, and the US Presidents. I thought it was a great book.

Good luck with your challenge James. It sounds great.


Hi. Thank you for your very useful suggestion. In fact, as luck would have it, I also have the book and you’re right, it is a great read. Once I’ve finished memorising the first 1000 digits of Pi, I’m going to use Ed Cooke’s suggested storyline for memorising the English Kings and Queens.

Have you memorised any - or all - of the information in the book? (He does have some great storylines, doesn’t he?) I think the hardest part for me will be the US Presidents as it’s not part of my history - but I would like to give it a try.

Thanks again for your good wishes re my challenge. As of yesterday, I was up to 700! I’m hoping to reach 1000 by Sunday - which will mean I’ll have managed it in 10 days. Fingers crossed!


Hi Parkouristx. I think learning Japanese beats 1000 digits of Pi!. That must be tough, Good luck with it. The trivia books sounds fun. There’s so much out there. It’s finding stuff that’s interesting to us or fun - that helps me a lot!

Thank for your good wishes. 700 down - 300 to go!


Haha A new language is sooooo fun! Thanks! I totally know what you mean. You want to memorize so much but we have to pick one thing then start another haha

oh nice! You got this!?! Do you have 1000 now???

Yes, I managed to reach 1000 digits on Sunday. It took me almost 30 minutes to call them back out loud. (I could have gone faster but I wanted to make sure I got them all right. I knew if I went fast I would call out a wrong number, not because I didn’t know it, but just because I would make a verbal mistake.)

It took me ten days to master. I began with batches of 4 (ie two lots of 2-digit numbers), before moving to 6 numbers (3 x 2), so as to save on locations, In the end, I used about 184 locations. I used a route around the outside of three houses (including mine) and a long country walk (which I go on regularly).

I was able to recite the list again yesterday. My original plan was not to worry about trying to remember it long term, but I think I might keep reciting it for fun! It seems a shame to waste all that hard work.

I’ve now started work on memorising all the Kings and Queens of England. In fact, I’ve committed them all to memory in the past two days. I now want to try to add historical detail (as provided in Ed Cooke’s ‘Remember, Remember’), so that it’s more than a list.

I’ve memorised a different pack of shuffled cards every day for the past two weeks so am getting a lot of practice. I’m just very slow!

Thanks for asking - and I hope all goes well with your learning Japanese!

That is amazing! I am glad you accomplished your goal for pi! :grinning: :clap: I would totally keep it long term because of how much time you put in!!

Oh nice! You are just on a memorizing spree! haha Hey we all started somewhere and how you are practicing, you will increase your speed in no time!

My Japanese is going. The pronunciation is just killer haha So I am going slower because of how much focus I have to put on that!

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Thank you for all your kind words - and good luck!

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