|21 Jan 2013||John||Mike|
Those of you who have been hashing for a while will have noticed that every hash is unique. In each and every one the hare will have imbued the style and the atmosphere of the trail with his or her personality, the hounds (and the pub landlord/lady) will have added theirs to the mix and, of course, the countryside and the weather and the adventures seem infinitely variable. As if to prove my point, today’s hash was noticeably unique. For the first time ever there was no trail to follow and the whole hash (apart from Maurice and Fiona – see details below) walked through deep snow following the hare in person.
Why was this ? Well …. John and Viv had planned a trail from the Angel in Purton, but that had to change because Purton was still under about three feet of water. So, they prepared a superb trail around Wanborough instead. Then, on the Friday before the hash the blizzards started and by Sunday the whole of Wiltshire lay under about three feet of snow. So, they made plans to lay the trail with coloured flour (you add poster paint), but that plan also had to be abandoned when Viv was laid low with an infection that affected her balance. Lesser mortals would have given up at this point but not Viv and John; a walking guided hash to cope with the conditions was immediately planned and promulgated. And it worked – we had a memorable trail that was huge fun.
Annie and I were the first to arrive at the car park of the Plough where we were met by the landlord who said irritably “We’re not open yet”. I explained that we were none other than the Kennet Valley Hash and that, of course, made everything alright and a few minutes later he was smiling at his car park full of 18 warmly dressed and cheerful hashers . Several new hashers were among them, including Margaret’s next door neighbours Kerri and Dave and a lovely young Italian girl called Federica (my apologies to them if I have mis-spelled their names) who were made very welcome. John gave us a brief which was essentially ‘follow me for about 3.5miles’ and we were off into the snow – only to stop again as Maurice and Fiona arrived dressed in winter running kit. “Didn’t you get the email ?“ asked John – “What email ?” said Maurice looking at a runnerless hash in surprise. So, quick thinking John gave him a map of the originally planned long route so that he and Fiona could run the long and then we were off.
John led us in a loop round Wanborough then out into open fields where the snow was so deep in the drifts that you had to lift your knees up to your chin to step through it. We gossiped and admired splendid views over pure white countryside – a wintry sun all but breaking through – and walked through farms and along narrow lanes where the snow lay undisturbed. There was a short clear stretch along the road and then we turned into a steeply sloping field of deep snow that ledto a bridge over a stream at the bottom looking delightful in that bright winter light. It was here that I am afraid discipline broke down and we had a full blooded snowball fight. Lots of laughter and tremendous fun. Order was eventually restored and we climbed out of the valley and picked up the road that leads past the Black Horse pub (now sadly boarded up and empty) and on back to the Plough which, fortunately, is still open.
The Plough is another proper old fashioned pub with a log fire burning in the hearth, no musak and lots of real ale. It wasn’t crowded as presumably customers less hardy than us remained abed – so we all sat together round the fire and chatted over a beer or two in our usual convivial way. Gom Brian thanked John for an enjoyable and distinctly unusual trail, welcomed our new hashers and told us about future trails and then I stood up to present the hash horn. This took a little longer than expected as Kathy decided at that point to make a speech thanking the landlady for being so helpful but Gentleman James was eventually presented with the horn for slipping from his usual high standard of impeccable courtesy and (shudder) throwing a snowball at a totally innocent Lady Margaret. A lovely hash – thank you John – and we all hope Viv is well again soon.