When Mark, the original hare for this evening, suddenly remembered that he couldn't set the run as he was doing several (mad!) marathons over the preceding weekend, Gerry gallantly stepped into the breach – a hare transplant!
In the usual Church car park a hasher romantically and obscurely called Zorro emerged to join us from darkest, and flattest, Didcot. Nobody seemed to know how or why Zorro appeared this Tuesday but there it is.
Gerry announced some unusual nuances. Firstly, he stated that there were to be "K" checks with much kissing – these presumably being at kissing gates. I can't say that I saw any such markings or engaged in any snogging whatsoever! Then there was apparently a secret code to be noted and unscrambled in order to get ones chops round a chip – this also was not found but the chips were thankfully still forthcoming. Lastly, Gerry nominated Barney as a friend of Kerry but we never actually got to the "I'll explain it later" bit.
With much anticipation (or trepidation) we set off up the road next to the pub and along the small footpath adjacent to the rec. A right at the road was followed by a sharp left into a not very private "private road" and emergence onto one of the many substantial fields hereabouts.
XGM David and The Blonde, who had both declared themselves to be injured, with David mumbling something about his middle leg, decided at this point to really short the short and merely run round the aforementioned field before returning to the pub. They were not seen again!
We ran on along various cunningly obscure trails, one of which resembled a BMX track with mounds and hollows a plenty. Passing Grange Farm, we emerged briefly onto Four Ashes Road at, believe it or not, Four Ashes before turning down Church Lane past Brand's House – a stately pile once owned by Disraeli and currently for sale at a paltry £5,500,000.
OnOn down, ever down, Church Lane we ran with the dawning realisation, confirmed by Helles, that we were heading towards Hughenden, the pub now being far away and the Beerometer firmly down on zero!
Pulling up at a check, and the long/short split, it was here that all benevolence towards our transplanted hare evaporated for us shorts as he pointed the finger of doom back up the steep and long slog pronouncing gleefully "shorts - back up the way you came".
With much mumbling, and a look of disbelief from Zorro who is used to absolutely flat terrain, the magnificent seven shorts about faced and slogged back up Church Lane path to the top with Hawkeye clutching the map donated by our replacement hare, his headtorch blinking like a strobe at a teenage disco – loose connection apparently.
It seems that the longs crossed over the main road, ran up to and beyond the Manor House, did a nice circuit of the estate woods before running down passing The Old Vicarage, through Hughenden Park then over the stream before returning to the main road and taking the notoriously long drag up through Millfield Wood. Somewhere on this extra curricular excursion, it seems that a Glis Glis was spotted – Sciurus Glis Linnaeus or edible (fat) dormouse. Nobody owned up to eating it though!
Back to us shorts. Passing the front of Brand's House, we spotted a large crater and much discussion set in as to the origin of this feature with the more imaginative of our number opting for a bomb crater.
With Hawkeye's searchlight still on the blink we sailed on across Kingshill Road at which point some confusion set in. First taking a left towards Rockhalls Farm, we soon realised this was a bum steer and retraced our steps passing what, from a distance, looked like a spacecraft with large green light and a large flashing red one. Barney reckoned it was not E.T. but some sort of substation and that the flashing red light meant we had triggered the alarm – Oops!!!
At the end of Cockshot Wood we had some trouble locating the right trail. After checking every possibility, we opted for an educated guess based on Barney's superb sense of direction, especially when there is a pub involved, together with Mike's nose for a deep fat fryer.
Sure enough, we shortly relocated flour and emerged at the edge of the playing field to burst forward with renewed vigour to the boozer. In the car park, whilst changing my kit, I was serenaded by the local yoofs to strains of "The Stripper". Nice !!!
In The Crown there was a superabundance of more yoofs and, critically, only one person serving beer which, for at least the third time we have run from this emporium, promptly ran out. "Oh I fink The Abbott's gorn" said the barmaid, promptly followed by "So 'as The Tribute – soz luv ". Queried whether any more stocks were to hand the answer was in the affirmative but apparently there was (as before) no time to change the barrel.
With the only ale remaining the near undrinkable IPA , this dire situation was somewhat rescued by the appearance of a decent supply of tasty chips and soft rolls which were well enjoyed, especially by Trencherman Mike.
All in all, a good hash and thanks must go to Gerry for setting at short notice, not that the about turn up the near perpendicular Church Lane path will be forgotten in a hurry!!!