|15 April 2012||Liz||Hilary|
Better ‘fess up first that it shouldn’t really be me, Hilary, as scribe for two reasons. First, apparently the job had been already delegated to Jeremy but I sort of pleaded with him to sub contract it down to me. And second, I gather that the job of scribe should not be done by the hare (in case the said hare-cum-scribe sing his or her own praises to the skies) and although I was not the Daneway hare I had indeed accompanied Liz on her trail-blazing flour-sprinkling pre-11 a.m. mission.
But of course I intend to be wholly, utterly objective writing about this wonderful, typical blue sky handover hash! I wouldn’t dream of bigging up the sensational and satisfying hash that Liz laid – of course not! The thing is though that I had wanted to earn my mucking in spurs for a while either as hare or as scribe and I felt scribing about a trail I vaguely knew would be best for my first try. Otherwise my diabolical sense of direction and geography risked resulting in a pretty damn inaccurate account of paths travelled eastbound, southbound or toward that incline or this wood.
So, having laid the trail with which Liz was familiar thanks to Margaret, both she and I did some anxious clock watching as 11 a.m. arrived and just two hashers (yes, both walkers!) were the only ones thus far gathered for the off. We both so wanted it to be a success in order to give Maurice a brilliant send off, and Brian a GOM starter hash to remember. Maurice was bowing out and handing over to Brian after two years as GOM, and this just had to be marked big style après-Hash. The Daneway in Sapperton had been specially chosen for this as we knew the landlord to be walker friendly, and that the beer garden would suit.
Eventually enough of the usual suspects assembled for Liz to outline distances and hazards. Distances, well that was tricky, as I had done my level best the evening before using green embroidery thread, an OS map and a sense of confidence in my scale reading ability. But hell, I don’t get to use embroidery thread that often (ever?) and as usual my patience failed to last the necessary one minute required to give hashers an accurate mileage estimate. But this failure was gallantly brushed over, hazards of low hanging branches and the odd patch of mud were described, and then it was on, on!
On through the extraordinarily beautiful Bathurst Estate and over Dorval Bridge, where a sign told us we were ‘welcome on foot or on horseback by permission of the Earl Bathurst’. How very gracious of him and how very English on a day when the bluebells were to be a hash highlight, amongst other flora and fauna. Liz spotted a deer, all enjoyed the celandines and birdsong, and Jeremy even briefly diverted off-piste to view some polo ponies and their riders. How very pukka, as Jamie rather than Jeremy would say!
There were two long / short options where walkers’ and runners’ paths diverged. Walkers had the advantage of dipping into the centre of the village of Sapperton where a loop led up to the main road and then down past the church. Kathy was sadly not around to appreciate the architecture and, also sadly, a lack of an arrow in the right place by the church path led James, Lynn and Robin astray for a while. Liz later showed a fine sense of duty in tracking them down to ensure their whereabouts and well being.
Feedback from the runners was positive with general approval overall for flour distribution, although a misleading rogue double dot had apparently been spotted where it shouldn’t have been. And mishaps did occur, as they do; not only was Viv’s shoe ripped by a nail on a stile, but the lovely pooch Maurice later had to return to his owner also sustained a nasty nick to the nose caused by the same nail.
Walkers had parted company from the runners for a second time at Tunley Cottage, where the trail led through the cottage garden and then into a long, long field where a long, long arrow signalled the route. For good measure and encouragement, Liz had drawn a floury smiley face midway along. And once the lengthy field was conquered, the walkers then enjoyed superb views down toward Daneway House and the pub beyond.
Runners on the other hand, after passing Tunley Farm, had the benefit of a descent through fields and along the picturesque Sickeridge Woods and Sapperton Valley before their return to the Daneway pub, where the handover ceremony awaited.
Speeches were short but heart-felt, with Maurice mentioning highlights of his tenure such as the foreign foray over to Dublin. With due ceremony, Brian received a ring binder of hash write ups and a tatty blue folder which was undoubtedly significant in some way, but I certainly can’t remember what. Singing of the ‘Down, down’ song led by Mike then marked the official handover with beer going ‘down’ Maurice’s and Brian’s throats, as well as less expectedly ‘up’ onto Brian’s head. Maurice was thanked for his inspirational GOM-ship and in appreciation of this and on behalf of everyone, Margaret and Mike presented him with a stunning watercolour of Liddington Hill by a local artist.
By the end of all this, no one had a blind clue where the next hash was going to be, but I’m certain Brian will soon have it all sorted, and capable hands will guide us ‘on, on’!