It was raining when I arrived in Wendover on Tuesday night. But, if truth be told, it seemed like it had been raining forever. Further north, Lake Windermere had become part of the Irish Sea, exciting no one, except Irish travellers planning to go to the Appleby races. And York was flooded by Scandinavian day pillagers, who couldn't believe their luck, as the trickle that is the Ouse became a highway.
I would like to lay the blame for all this upon Donald Trump, by his excessive use of of aerosol hairspray propellant causing global warming, but concede that is probably stretching the physics a little too far.
Oh well, back to the southern night.
One's dread, as the hare, when the weather is so inclement, is that no one will turn out. This fear was ill founded, as the hash rallied round in force, and in costume, as it has done on many occasions in the past.
First out of the blocks was Ant, pogo-ing rotundly towards the meeting place, hissy noises emanating from his behind. This turned out to be the fan blowing air inwards, but was still enough of a concern to set the dogs off barking.
The archangel Gabriella entered stage left, wisely following the inaction of her fellow winged creatures by staying firmly on the ground. She was attended by a younger angel, Zachariah, who disguised his heavenly origins by donning the garb on an elf. It worked. No one suspected a thing.
Maggie and Dave rolled up, accompanied by two grandchildren, Evie and Dulcie. Earlier, Maggie gave them the choice of staying in the warm and dry at home, or going hashing in the wind and rain wearing funny outfits. It was a no-brainer of a decision.
Our hare, Matt, was sheltering under the rear door of his Mercedes, dispensing a hot festive brew, even though exhausted after carrying, then laying, 9kg of flow around the town. Most hashers took up the offer. Fire in the belly is a well known method of rousing the troops, and it didn't fail now.
Gerry whispered to me that the official scribe had not turned up, and could I find a volunteer replacement. I turned around to make the announcement, to find that hash had all run away, leaving me holding the short straw.
The run started well enough, meandering through the 'burbs of Wendover', wet but plenty of traction. The station was reached without incident, and the by-pass bridged via the bridge. And that was the end of the running.
After a failed check at the Aylesbury ring, the hare pointed out that the trail was under the ploughed field, Ho Ho Ho. Upwards, and barely onwards, to the Ellesborough Road. This provided a brief respite before Combe Hill, or more precisely (because I have the map), Bacombe Hill. On step forward, two slides back, as we inched our way up. Oddly, the map also shows we passed "Help" on the way up, and "feedback" on the way back down to Mr Tumulus. The hare said that it was all downhill from here, Ho Ho Ho.
For the shorts it was, for longs there was the "I forgot about this hill" slog to Coxgrove Wood (I wonder what they grew there?). Just prior to this, Alan moosed (again). Dick and I noted that his control of gravity was better on two wheels than two shoes.
At the summit, we scraped the county from our feet, and admired the viewed (not), Ho Ho Ho. Being unburdened we scampered down the road, back into Wendover, and solid ground.
There was, however, a sting in the tail, Ho Ho Ho. We had to navigate the adventure playground. It is remarkable how impassable this was, as Hashers fell or slipped, their way round.
Poor Gabriella was no longer a magnificent creature. Rain and time (1 hour) had wreaked their revenge as one wing hung limply below her waist.
As is often the case, the best bit came at the end. Lots of sandwiches in a warm, welcoming pub. And a happy happy-birthday cake for Rozy, celebrating her somethingth year on this earth.
Thank you Matt. Your efforts were much appreciated. And thanks to all the other hashers not mentioned, for the great festive outfits.
PS. It was brought to my attention by the Hash informer, that earlier Rozy had returned to the Mercedes, and banged loud and long on the van, also shouting, expecting to be let in. When the door was finally opened, she found it was a similar, but the wrong, van. More on that later, maybe.