|26 May 2019||Paul||Kathy|
When I was selling new homes for a living, we were always incentivised with higher commission on the few remaining on-site property sales – because they were always the hardest to sell. And so it is with writing hash magazines. My earlier entries were much easier, because every phrase I submitted was ‘new’ and untried, but now that I’ve used up all my favourite superlatives, anecdotes and whimsical asides, I’m running out of appropriate hash USPs (Unique Selling Points). Thankfully, however, I can turn to my favourite art form, poetry, for inspiration to describe today’s hash.
As Elizabeth Barrett Browning famously said “How do I love thee (Paul)? Let me count the ways!”:
(1) a cracking location
(2) idyllic, easy to follow trails*
(3) beautiful, authentic Cotswold stone properties to admire
(4) a good turnout – including dogs Lily, Jessie and Woody and
(5) the perfect hash pub
What more could we ask for? Many of us stayed for a leisurely Sunday roast afterwards, and it all added up to a Great Day Out. So a big thank you, Paul, for your meticulous planning and execution, and for taking us yet again to pastures new.
When we arrived at the pub we received such a genuinely warm and affable welcome (no cross words about obstructive parking or mutterings of ‘fitting us all in’) that we were quite pleasantly taken aback, so used are we to grumpy landlords. But no, our host today was Peter (56 years young as he kept telling us), a charming landlord who really seemed to want us there, and who immediately seemed one of us judging by the friendly comparing of notes on hashers’ arthritic knees pre- and post-surgery. But I digress.
This initial chatter took place inside the pub as the weather had suddenly become positively autumnal – grey skies, squally winds and what seemed like a real drop in temperature – but fortunately it settled down half-way around the hash and, true to form, we soon started to remove outer layers, fold away our brollies, and settle down to enjoy the variety of scenery.
It was all-in-all a very gentle hash; a few shallow hills to afford the best views of the lovely, patchwork Wilts/Glos countryside (SO many dry stone walls) and just two stiles in total, as most the fields were accessed via kissing gates instead; much more civilised, though no-one lingered to offer me a kiss, sadly, let alone have a glint in their eye (unlike a couple of grey horses whose field we had the nerve to cross).
There was only a small corps of runners today, Viv, John, Keith and David, all of whom I believe ran without mishap, even if a few actually slowed to a walk once the pub was in sight, but hopefully they’ll soon be joined again by some of our regulars, including Jeremy (France), Maurice (Far East), Brian (grandson), and last, but by no means least, lovely Sue, who has been feeling very under the weather for several weeks now. Fingers crossed you get a proper diagnosis imminently, Sue, and are soon feeling right as rain again.
We had never done this trail before, and the number of ancient Cotswold stone buildings that we encountered en route, many of which had been skilfully crafted into modern high-end homes without losing that unmistakable rustic feel, was astonishing. Unsurprisingly, one or two of the larger unspoilt estates had discreet signs saying ‘to be coveted’ (yeah, rub it in you rich buggers), but on closer inspection I realise they simply said ‘to be converted’.
Despite the lack of recent rain the verges and tall trees lining our way were an incredibly lush green, and there were many delightful pink, white and mauve wild flowers along the wayside to enjoy.
We crossed a narrow, picturesque river, overhung with very dense foliage, which the pub landlord said was the river Avon. A river Avon, perhaps, rather than The River Avon. He also told me that The Carpenters Arms was still within Wiltshire, but only by two miles.
Towards the end of the walkers’ trail we came across a beautifully situated, singular cottage that appeared to exist literally in the middle of nowhere. Paul had marked the outside of this pretty property with a large cross, so that we wouldn’t miss the recently erected stone plaque set in the dry stone wall to commemorate William Breakspear, one of the first brave young soldiers to be killed at the Battle of the Somme, aged just 21. So very difficult to reconcile such a glorious, unspoilt setting with such a wretched, pointless and grossly premature death so far from home.
On a much lighter note, we were all very glad to see the On Inn sign shortly after (surely that was more than a three mile walk, Paul?) No matter, as we all enjoyed our usual gregarious and relaxed apres, with many of us enjoying a very good home-cooked lunch too.
Our GOM thanked Paul very much for laying a very gratifying hash. More in this delightful area, please.
- Some of the runners moaned about the lack of flour on the runners’ trail and there were dark mutterings about Paul ‘sadistic stingy’ Walsh. But, happily, the walkers had no such concerns, although your scribe this week is rather giddy from the sight of so many flour circles; what’s wrong with the humble arrow I ask? On on!