The velvety darkness of the night was brightened by the glow of stars as we gathered in the car park. Jess explained that the top star on the left of Orion (or as we technical people call it Betelgeuse, incidentally pronounced Beetle Juice by people in the know) looks red as it is a supergiant. Which means that 430 years after it goes supernova (which will be soon) and its light arrives on Earth, your mobile may pick up a lot of interference and crackle for a short while.
Jo, who was originally scheduled to be this week's scribe, was notably absent after her weekend in Reykjavik. She weaselled out of it using the very flimsy excuse for an excuse that it was her 2nd wedding anniversary and she was going out for a meal (though she scandalously didn't say whom she was going with). Still, that was better than a previous excuse for non-attendance given, if memory serves by Aud, who once said she had to hoover the parrot).
If anyone had been listening to the hare in his pre-hash lie-fest they would have been led to believe that the short run was less than three miles, the medium was 5.3 and the long was 5.8 and particularly vicious. True to form two thirds of what he said fell into in the Porky-pie category.
Checking left out of the pub I entirely failed to spot both a track and a footpath that were clearly hiding in plain sight, so I had to turn back upon myself. No easy task as I already had a stitch which was to remain with me for most of the evening. A right at the next check took us North behind the pub on a long downhill towards Lodge Hill farm (the site of a Roman Villa) and then North West to the outskirts of Saunderton Lee where I overheard the comment that "My wife told me to stop impersonating a flamingo. I had to put my foot down."
Turning left up the first long, hard uphill drag to the Ridgeway, the hash, almost en-masse, slowed to a gasping walk up the chalk. Fortunately there was a re-group at the top (one of blessedly-many I am grateful to say) near the ancient bowl barrow where, in 1933, they found 4,000 year old beaker fragments along with flints, animal and possible human bones. Jogging along the narrow ridge that tops Lodge Hill the ground fell away steeply on either side giving (in the day time at least) spectacular views of the country on one side and the railway line on the other. Narrowly avoiding a flying moose because I wasn't watching where I was going, I heard cries of on-on from Hells Bells who was living up to her speedy reputation.
Soon after I was pleased to see a contingent of FRBs returning on a back check that prevented them disappearing forever from the pack. It's odd but on-backs are always funnier when they happen to someone else. Andy, maintaining his form from the previous week was running as though he was trying to escape from the dentist in Marathon Man. An extra Weetabix was mentioned.
On-down the steep end of the hill past a tumuli before an unexpected left turn in the middle of a field took us back in the direction of the pub. Right and left checks took us across (or possibly along) the Chiltern way and Callow Down Farm, an £2M impressive cruck-framed 15th Century house, hove into view.
But back to the Hare's fib – he had said it was a 5.8 mile run but arriving back at the on-inn, GPS' reported a meagre 4.3 miles run. A quick conflab of the long-cutting hashers and half turned pub-ward and the remaining six or seven of us headed on-on down the seriously nasty hill into the next valley, where we skirted Yoesden Wood, before climbing back straight up an even bigger hill to a second and invisibly marked on-inn - having added on an extra one and half self-inflicted miles to the hash.
A crowed room in the inn with a fire in the middle of it, good chips, coupled with a tasty pint and a reasonably short speech from the GM and the joy of life that had been almost irretrievably lost on the horrid hash-high hills of earlier was restored for yet another week.