|28 May 2017||Viv & John||Kathy|
“The lark’s on the wing! God is in His Heaven! All’s right with the world!” I’m not sure Robert Browning was thinking of his lover, Elizabeth Barrett, when he penned those stirring words, or whether – decanter of flour in one hand and blue sky above – he strolled from her Wimpole Street home to Regent’s Park and thought “I think I’ll have a bash at a hash on this glorious morning” (though, unsurprisingly, it didn’t make the poetry top-ten of its day). No matter, his words perfectly sum up the pleasurable anticipation of a perfect hash, on a perfect day, in a picture-perfect place… with the added bonus of being in the safest of paws! So before I forget to say so, thank you very much Viv and John for laying a trouble-free, well signalled, stile-free (very important, that) trail… just the right length too.
I dared to wear shorts for the first time this year, as did Adam tackling his first run in many years – and what a terrific photo of him! Good grief, our first ever sight of his aerodynamic knees and we were all prancing and hoofing around the carpark like unexercised, coltish thoroughbreds waiting for the off (in our dreams – sadly, the rest of the assorted knees on display were mostly rather superannuated*, but we all live in hope). *Viv’s knees excluded from this observation – her tanned, toned, lithe, go-on-forever legs make her look like an ageless gazelle.
It was great to see John running again after several months’ recovery from his horrific, couldn’t-make-it-up accident helping a friend out at his home in France last year…. tall ladder, large old fruit tree, big chain saw…… you fill in the ghastly gaps. He’s incredibly lucky to be in a position to run with us again – see how well he looks in the photo …. And yes he finished today’s lovely trail without mishap, so very well done, John.
It was really lovely to see Des again too – a loyal friend to the Kennet Valley Hash over many years – and I’m so pleased he made the effort to join us. Hope it’s not just a one-off Des… so no pressure there then! There was a good show of regular runners and walkers, and we also welcomed Margaret’s grandson Max and newcomer Mick – hope they enjoyed their walk and the pub camaraderie afterwards.
As expected of these experienced much-loved hares, the trail was a delight – you never tire of the charm of Bishopstone village with its rustic ponds, concealed alleyways, narrow lanes and quaint thatched properties with their properly old-fashioned English cottage gardens. However, the graveyard next to the beautiful ancient church contained solemn reminders of the fragility of human life: several rows of headstones in the one family name “Stone” belonged to children who had all died of a congenital heart condition before the age of 16. We took a moment to reflect…
Beyond the heart of the village, with its many twists, turns and ascents, we crossed a broad valley whose distinct corrugated contours suggested it had been cut by a glacier thousands of years ago (Kay and I had this debate the last time we hashed here, but I win both times, because both times I’ve been scribe!). The sun came out in earnest now, and Annie and I were very glad of a bit more shade as we turned left at the top of the brow and started our descent, happily munching ripe cherries (yep we had to stop talking for a whole minute) and not envying the farmers who were hard at work in the fields. We also had the pleasure of seeing a pony and trap unhurriedly riding by – a truly bucolic sight.
Now that the Royal Oak has acquired the property next door and created a boutique hotel, Viv said she fancied staying in Bishopstone for a few days to explore it at leisure, but as she and John only live a few miles away I suggested day-tripping may be more appropriate – and a lot cheaper! Said Royal Oak made us very welcome this time, and several staff danced discreet attendance on us throughout our amiable apres, relaxing outside on the front porch which were lucky to have to ourselves. There are endless references in and around the premises, as well as in their extensive publicity material, regarding the organic provenance of their menu – so I had to smile when I recalled a recent article by Giles Coren (Restaurant Writer of the Year) in The Times magazine saying: ‘you can’t move now for menu notes saying things like “this pig lived on heritage acorns in my nan’s garden, and was killed at its own request by Dignitas!”
Keith wore an eye-catching T-shirt bearing the words:
“CHAOS, CRISIS, CONFUSION … My work here is done!”
so he had no trouble gaining our attention, and thanked our lovely hares for a splendid hash (I hasten to stress, here, that his logo did not represent our reaction to today’s flawless flour route). Keith then gave us a brief run-through of future hashes. We have a vacancy for a hare on two dates in September, though Brian Lovell has kindly agreed to lay one of those two trails, and he wants to assure runchers that he will join us again soon.
It now just leaves me to remind everyone of the details Annie & Mike’s annual charity tea party this year, which many hashers have supported – and really enjoyed – in the past: It’s being held on Saturday, 15th July, 2.30 pm – 5.00 pm, in aid of Friends of Angel’s Orphanage (if you want to know what that is, please ask Annie.) There will be home-made cakes & scones including a gluten-free selection. Live background musical entertainment will be provided, together with an always excellent tombola, and several other attractions. Venue: “Brandy Bush”, Brookfield, Highworth. Plenty of on-road parking. Please note, Annie said she would also welcome any additional tombola donations, as this has always been a very successful stall – and items go very fast!