The car park of the Quince Tree greeted us as we arrived, with perfect timing, at exactly 7.45. To be fair we would have been there ten minutes earlier if I hadn't gone the wrong way, still Christmas Common was a nice, if misguided, place to visit enroute.
The barracking started as the GM accused Roz of desertion to Didcot Hash – which she masterfully rebuffed with a blank, innocent look and the phrase "But I don't run with Didcot." However, as she followed this with "Only sometimes anyway" she masterfully defeated her own argument. But it was smiles all around as the hash ignored yet another call to order and went on chatting.
If anyone had listened as Matthew introduced the run and welcomed the less than plentiful Didcotters, they would have learned that (a) the route was perfectly flat, (b) the Hare was lying, (c) the short run was over three miles and (d) the long run was a hasher's 5.5 miles. I think there was a mutter about Kenathon miles, but I was distracted by a comment between two non-hashers entering the pub "I used to play lots of sport like this lot – particularly tennis, football and cricket, but I stopped when my son broke my PlayStation."
Matthew also announced two special new on-back marks. Although his explanation was simple these were almost universally got wrong by the hash – but then, what can you expect from a pack where, on all but five checks around the entire trail, the wrong number of people ran back!
Typically, as we started I checked the wrong way and had to catch up, which I did just in time to scale the truly terrible mountain up through Almshill Wood – by the top of which almost everyone was clapped-out, gasping and walking.
Normally I can rely on my trusty GPS to tell me where I have been but for reasons best known to the accursed device it couldn't identify any of the satellites above for the first couple of miles - and so I have to guess. My guess includes the top of a hill and a few roads.
The GPS picked up the trail between Ballam's and the well named Kildridge Woods, just in time for a long and pleasant downhill with a view-stop across to Stonor House (which has belonged to the Stonor family since the late twelve hundreds and is said to have an ancient stone circle built into its chapel).
Having run all the way down the hill back to the road we turned right, then left and ran up another huge but gently inclined hill towards Maidensgrove Common and the pub that we didn't run from as they shut on Tuesdays.
If we had arrived at the common 45 minutes earlier we would have spotted Rob's Green and Harding in attendance as they both went to the wrong pub.
At the end of the common the cry of on-on rang out going from along the road towards a footpath that went left into the woods. This was a pity as it turned out to be the wrong way and all of us that were foolish enough to be in the front half of the pack had to turn around and go back, whereupon we ran around three sides of a square and turned into Park Wood. That is all but Ken who turned not into Park Wood but more into a daemon running machine as he hared off into the darkness, presumably scattering unsuspecting hashers in his wake. I think the hash ought to consider adding him to the (growing) list of runners who we need to kneecap with a baseball bat!
On-on through the wood, down the deliciously long hill towards the pub, across two fields, three lost trails and an awful lot of cow-based fertilizer and we arrived at the on-inn.
Roger made his usual oration and presented Roz with a T shirt for running an insanely large number of runs. After thanking Matthew for the (very enjoyable) hash, chips and goodies he changed his tack and went on about the Pub's toilets. After praising these to the sky and beyond, strenuously exhorting their magnificence and insisting that everyone must visit them, he carried on with wonder and amazement to praise the décor, facilities, beauty and the cute and fluffy little hand-drying towels that adorned these palaces of the privy.
I remember wondering if he was turning gay?