|12 June 2022||Karen & Nicki||Soma|
As I sat down to write about our hash from The Runner Pub last Sunday (12 June) and with a trail laid very expertly by Karen and Nicki, I was aware of the challenge that lay ahead of me. How on earth was I going to write about a walk when I have less than zero sense of direction (having joined an orienteering club at university and subsequently leaving it after feeling embarrassment at the depth of my lack of orientation skills)? I rely quite heavily on Sat Nav, to find places, of course.
Indeed, that brings me to one of the most wonderful aspects of the hashes. This is the only event that enables people like me to walk around in a new place, without getting lost. I feel hugely thankful to our GOM, Kevin, for carrying out the administrative duties so timely and for our wonderful volunteer trail-setters. We all appreciate the planning and time it takes to lay a trail, as well as laying themselves open to light criticism, and endless jokes, as the best-made plans don’t always go as envisaged.
The rural setting was beautiful and arrows, dots and double dots were all positioned appropriately and visibly, and this view was reflected by most of our fellow walkers and runners. I walked the ‘Short’ and normally stayed to the rear of the group, as the hash is as much an opportunity for socially connecting with my friends, as about the exercise in the fresh air and exploring the wonderful British countryside. For me, as I have recently started working after several years, I realised how much my fitness had deteriorated – a result of commuting to Reading for five days per week, although thankfully, I have started working-from-home for two days per week now. This has enabled me to return after a long spell away from the hash.
Another fellow hasher who returned to the hash after a while was Sue Bede, and it was lovely to see her back again. Certainly, the welcoming nature of our members and participants ensures that regardless of whether someone is aged 60, 80 or 14, they feel they would like to return to the group (yes, my teenager, Debjit, has often mentioned how he enjoys it). He is on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition this weekend and had expressed his wish to come along to this hash last Sunday – although when Sunday morning dawned, he simply didn’t manage to get out of bed in time.
The sheer pleasure of catching up with my friends while strolling on sun-dappled paths and alongside babbling brooks and wildflower meadows, is an undeniable attraction and Anne took some pictures of some iconic species such as wild clover, along the way. I passed a kaleidoscope of Painted lady butterflies above a clump of knapweed growing on a small patch of waste ground. We passed a prehistoric burial ground, inconspicuously tucked away amongst houses, surrounded by a circle of trees, and marked by a small plaque.
Although I had a chance to greet several friends at the start of the trail, such as Keith and Kay, Kevin, and Julie, as well as Hillary, I walked mostly with Kathy, who looked resplendent in a summery turquoise dress and charming, shimmery pumps. The fact that the trail turned out to be suitable for walking in a dress meant that no one got stung on the ankles by nettles or got shoes stuck in mud, which are some other issues that have cropped up in hashes of yore. It never fails to amaze me how Henry manages to get ahead of me even though he usually has two walking sticks. I wonder if it is because of his greater stride length, or just that I match my pace to whoever I am chatting with at the time, and it is often the subject of the conversation that determines the pace!
The post-walk get-together at the pub was also most pleasant and interestingly, Anne pipped David to the post in ordering the chips first. They were very tasty chips that generated some light sparring between Keith who wanted to drown the chips in vinegar, and Kathy, who protested that vinegar really wasn’t to her taste. I also learned that Keith was hosting Dan from Ukraine, who had attended the previous hash. The horn that is a prop of the hash, has seemingly gone missing. The story goes that Kathy’s cunning plan of presenting it to a first-time hasher backfired as they never returned to the hash and so a replacement horn is now sought. However, despite the loss of this treasured prop, this hash was amongst the nicer ones, and hopefully is one of many more to come!