|14 June 2015||Viv & John||Kathy|
Another grey start and the prospect of rain, so what to put on when the weather’s a pain? At the last hash I put my faith in the forecast – with some cynicism it must be said – and sported a pink sun visor throughout, only to find it was soaked through with rain by the time we reached our destination – duh! So, hedging all my bets, I wore a weird combination of winter and summer clothing today and off I set.
It’s a nice run over to Bishopstone, up Callas Hill beyond Wanborough and a left turn close to the Ridgeway, with lovely views all the way as you descend into this pretty community with its hallmark large pond at the centre of the village. At least, that’s how it should have been, but there was a road closure en route due to a burst water-main, and the diversion signs took me to yet another dead end, so I was a tad frustrated when I eventually arrived, and poor John must have wondered what had hit him when I then got in a fret trying to locate the pub car park! But all’s well that ends well and the hash – at least from the walkers’ perspective – was flawless from start to finish.
I did learn later that that’s not quite how the runners saw it, however, as some of the senior hashers got in an argument right at the start about too much flour (too much??) and some confusion about the trail directions both outward and inward bound, but it just confirmed what we’d always known – that some of them can’t tell their arrases (sic) from their elbows!
And it was a splendid trail today, truly, with so many lovely sights and sounds. Firstly we had a wonderful tour around the village taking in numerous charming properties, some of them positively shoed in to whatever tiny plots had become available, so that there wasn’t a straight line anywhere – and all the better for it, because round every corner there was something new to see and such interesting gardens to glimpse, some with chickens running free, others with grand statuary or terraces.
Then along with the runners we were directed up to the Ridgeway – not arduous at all as it was just a short climb (though I did hear mutterings from the runners that their ascent was very hard work) – and soon we were at the summit, with wondrous views across to the wind turbines and beyond, with lustrous patchworks of different greens in every direction, thanks to the recent fine rain. We were grateful that the high winds had finally died down today, and all agreed it was ideal hash weather – pleasant, mild and dry, but not muddy, and not too warm either, which is just how we like it.
Just before we dropped down into the distinctively shaped valley (Ainsley and Kathy debated whether it was a glacial valley, but glacial won as Kathy’s writing this!), James produced a lethal weapon. I will repeat this because James is known for crafting perfectly formed miniature pistols (amongst other things), but lo and behold this time it was a lethal and very grown-up-looking sling, with marbles as ammunition. We were diverted for a few minutes by Annie’s repeated attempts to knock down an abandoned drinks can perched on a fence post – to no avail. We then pondered the origin of the phrase “to lose one’s marbles”…. answers on a pretty postcard please (but email would do!). In fact, we did think James had indeed lost his as he then proceeded, after showing us how it’s really done, to walk off head held high wearing his jacket over his head and draped around his shoulders, appearing in profile to look very much like a regal Pharoah (you had to be there..).
It must be noted, however, that the hash wasn’t perfect by default, but by careful adjustment on the day itself from our lovely hare, Viv. This was because the recent intensely “growy” weather (i.e. soft warm drizzle) had caused the nettles to shoot up to over 6’ high towards the end of the originally planned route – and she very thoughtfully created a less threatening detour instead. Well, that’s our Viv for you, a true original and simply one of the best.
And what a beautiful end to a hash trail it was! The runners and walkers all happily converged together as the route took us through the extraordinarily pretty walkway called, strangely, The City. It was quite stunning. We descended down a narrow set of steps to find ourselves on a footpath which meandered amongst several colourful and lovingly maintained borders and lawns. These formed the boundaries of several beautiful thatched cottages that serendipitously surround a tranquil pond. Lucky occupiers indeed: the scene was simply idyllic. Even all the thatches seemed to have been recently manicured to “within an inch of their lives”, as my mother would say!
We got back to the Royal Oak in very good spirits and with energy to spare, and sat outside to enjoy the usual friendly banter that hallmarks a successful hash. The temperature was just right, and we lingered over a drink or two, before reluctantly departing to attend to Sunday dinners and gardening duties. Thank you very much Viv and John for preparing such an excellent hash for us yet again– oh, and last, but by no means least, I want to say how incredibly clear the trail was. At no point was the route ever ambiguous and the walkers followed it with ease… and no stiles either, I’ve just realized. Yippee!!