The sun sparkled from a heaven clothed in the deepest shades of summer. Birds wheeled effortlessly across an azure sky and feelings of contentment grew and reached as far as forever.
But, enough of my last holiday and back to the Hash. The day was about as pleasant as it had a right to be, considering Roger was soon to deafen me by bellowing "Oi" in my ear and hare Matt was to announce that he was just too embarrassed to say how long the long run was - but would content himself, if not us, by saying it was "way, way" longer than the short. He then tried to ease his conscience by saying it was very flat, but as he added "so it will probably be very fast" I think he failed.
We set off along a little track along the side of the pub and 150 yards later found ourselves at the first of four long/short splits. Naturally, as I was going long, I checked and found the short trail - so had to double back, a fate that was to become all-too familiar as the run progressed.
At the end of the first field I suddenly remembered an "archaeology" hash I had set from this pub some years ago. We were passing the site where a collection of Neolithic arrowheads had been found – but I guess arrowheads are beside the point.
Across another field and a quick left into the elegantly named Lordling Wood, which is the site of one of the many local Geocaches, and we caught up with a surprisingly ripe raspberry bush, a cherry tree and walkers who were busy scoffing them. A long left to Kings Ash farm and we arrived at the second split.
Barn wood soon came and went while Grims Ditch, and the third split, hove gently into view. Most Grims Ditches (originally pronounced Deek, but spelt Dic) were built around 300 BC – but nobody knows why, except that they were obviously not built for defence as even a three year old child could have got around them. Grims may be the Anglo-Saxon version of Woden (or Odin), the god of war, which means "the masked one" – so it would have been far more appropriate for our masked hash last year.
At this point someone called out "Helen Heads" – which was mean of them as there were no overhanging branches - just a lot of roots! To protect the guilty but maintain the peace I won't name names or say who it was, but Andy mentioned he won't be coming to the next few hashes.
The wood went on for what seemed like a very long way and people started complaining about weariness – despite the fact we were only half way around the Hash.
Two events occurred in quick succession. The first was to poor Kai, who at just 9 years old is getting close to matching Ant's turn of speed and endurance, (Note to the Hash, remember to bring knee-capping sticks for them both next week!). Kai was stung in the middle of the back by a rampant, under-t-shirt wasp – but continued on bravely and with far less fuss than many a more experienced Hasher.
The second event involved Sara and a herd of cows. As you may know Sara and cows don't get along. What you may not have known is that, when chased by aforesaid beasties, Sara's turn of speed leaves Ant in the dust. It's a shame Jo wasn't there as it would have been impressive to see who got to the gate first (Usain Bolt eat your heart out).
A passing thought: we should introduce the sport of being chased by cows into the Olympics as we would be sure to scoop-up both Gold and Silver. A second aside – have you noticed that virtually all of the sports where the UK did well at the Olympics involved our team sitting down? rowing, cycling, horse riding etc. If only they gave medals for drinking tea.
Time and miles ticked past and it grew seriously dark under the trees as we ran through Stonehill Wood and onto Lady Grove. Fortunately we emerged into fading sunlight and a quick jaunt across Arrewig Lane, a downhill, an uphill and a final but very mean on-back (by which I mean it was me that got caught) and we were back at the pub looking forward to chips.
PS. Though this is nothing to do with hashing, I rather liked some bright spark's idea for a sign on Murdock's old News of the World Building -"Here lies the News of the World – Hacked to death".