|24 Jun 2012||Maurice||Hilary|
So, putting firmly aside that second hash mag aka ‘difficult second album’ feeling, let me plunge straight in and say that for me this ‘Midsummer’s Day Hash’ was one of the best ever. It had the usual hash mix: comment-provoking weather, beautifully varied and stunning scenery, several ‘lost and found’ adventures and a drink and a chat in a beer garden to cap it all.
Hare Maurice’s intro outside ‘The Outside Chance’ (part owned by racehorse breeder Guy Sangster) told of his altercation whilst trail laying with a fractious farmer, who was pacified only due to our ex-GOM’s familiarity with the horse racing world. Apparently the magic words were ‘Black Caviar’ and hey presto, Maurice was allowed to continue flouring the farmer’s hedge. Good. So, our two themes this week ladies and gents are guns and horses, all very country pursuits-y.
And all very Marboro country (for those of us who remember cigarette ads). Yes, horses. Apparently after winning some dosh at 100-1 odds with his racehorse “Only Dreams”, in 2008 an entrepreneur called Howard Spooner took his winnings and teamed up with a buddy of his called Guy Sangster to buy their local pub in Manton and rename it ‘The Outside Chance’. I was told that hashers had paid a previous visit to the pub in its earlier incarnation as ‘The Oddfellows’. However what may not have been known (the hare kept quiet about this bit) was that in March this year there was a ‘lock in’ of the non-voluntary kind when drinkers had to stay inside the pub and lie low for over an hour whilst a gunman was threatening to ‘shoot up the pub’. Police involvement on a serious scale / local rag write up etc.
Anyway, unaware of all this, our group of runners and walkers left the pub and village, continuing past Manton Grange and the playing fields and tennis courts of Marlborough College. We’d all been expecting wind and rain, sun or hail or anything really, but the reality proved warm and benign. I fell into conversation with Gentleman James, who was officially given this moniker later in the beer garden for services to damsels in distress and generally gentlemanly behaviour at all times.
Not only did the College down there in the valley as we rambled high above it boast an athletics track and tennis courts – but also a pistol range. Of course, it all
made perfect sense, I thought, of course young gents had to practice their grouse shooting skills, didn’t they? James explained that actually it’s wannabe soldiers such as the Marlborough lads who like to hone their military skills early in life and it’s not just about learning to blast small birds to pieces in their hundreds.
Now listen up…..apparently James is a prize winning shot himself and not to be messed with in the firearms department. Hashers – do not mess with James! He can not only spell a PKK Walther, he can **** use one!
So, passing a mini chalk horse cut into the turf on our right we very soon all came unstuck and lost the trail. I’m sure Fiona did tell me that the ‘short’ trail for walkers (as opposed to the ‘short walkers’ trail which would basically just be for those under 5 foot – me) was ‘thataway’. But did I take note? No, and we walkers just dumbly followed the runners up the steep incline instead before losing sight of them.
Other highlights of the trail included: mud, grasses as high as my head, views to soothe the soul, and lots of stiles. Hopefully GOM / Webmaster will include a photo of Kathy deciding to take an alternative approach to what she clearly thought was one stile too far. Yes, climbing through it rather than over it. Enough said.
It looked for some while as though it was an Outside Chance we’d ever find our way back to Manton at all at one point. I’m sure the runners don’t lose the plot quite as thoroughly as we seem to!
However the pub eventually hove into view, snuggled cosily next to ‘Sheepfold Cottage’ and ‘Jellydog Cottage’. Aaahh…..sweet! Once in the beer garden the bags were duly awarded to Mike on the simple basis that he is in dire need of new clothing. And to sum up? Exactly one year since our Great Irish Hash, this hash had proved indeed to be a Marvellous Midsummer Masterpiece.