The evening sparkled, in stark contrast to the preceding hours and days. That is, if you believed the excuses that the hare gave out in the pub car park. It appears that on Sunday, and then again Tuesday afternoon, the heavens opened to discharge copious amounts of water whenever the hare attempted to place flour upon the ground. (Send her to Africa, I say). And if the rain did not succeed in erasing the trail then a local “anti hashing league” card-carrying member crept out of their slime and finished the job.
Given this dire warning, it was then a pleasant surprise to find that most of the trail had survived. Unfortunately so had all the false trails and on-backs. So in true Miss Whiplash fashion, the hare doled out pleasure and pain in equal good measure.
With the preliminaries dealt with we welcomed our virgin hasher Francesca (Hee-hee we thought, doesn’t know what she has let herself in for) and then toddled off out of Turville and up the hill.
In the distance and part way to the sky hovered the distinctive windmill preceded by a very steep Turville hill.
However, dread was quickly replaced by relief as we took a right towards Fingest and skirted the worst excesses of the closely spaced contour lines shown on the map. (For Audrey. We ran parallel to the contours and not orthogonal to them).
The relief did not last long as we soon hit the first of many on-backs and found that the back of pack had barely left the car park. On returning to the trail I saw Marte standing still in an anxious sort of way. Getting closer I thought she meant to speak to me but then all became clear. She was improvising (due to lack of training) a stationary on-back and was only concerned how cold she might get waiting for the tail end to catch up. Needless to say, we made sure that she got her “training” in abundance after that.
At Fingest we headed towards the church. Miss Whiplash, in her best faux voice said “We always go down here, don’t we?” She looked so pleased with herself when we trudged back to her after hitting her false trail.
The correct trail led us up the hill by the side of Mill Hanging Wood.
Near the top I felt nails scratching on the battery compartment of my head torch. Turning around I found Dick in my face and asked him what he was doing. “Trying to turn you on” was his limp reply. I was tempted to show him how but decided against it. It turned out that he was pestering me to sponsor him on his mega ride. After agreeing to sign whatever he wanted back in the pub, he left me alone (physically) but was still subject to verbal abuse from him and his sidekick who had finally caught us up.
The long-short split convened at Gravesend on Chequers Lane. Given the view straight ahead of a vertical climb into Hanger Wood it was small wonder that a good number decided to stick to the contour they were on and take the short route to the left. Only fools and horses’ riders elected to go long.
Ade and Sam lead the way across the field. Bear in mind that they were both wearing virulently day-glo T shirts, trophies garnered at the Marlow 5. The resulting cry from those following behind and viewing this picture was almost universal.
For a while conversation was sparse as the steepening incline took its toll. At the top the hare tricked us into another false trail before turning left along the ridge. Here the conversation degenerated again as it concerned the definition of “menage”. One suggestion that it meant you could choose the best parts of different men to create a better composite piqued the interest of one of our female crew. After mulling it over a short while she asked whether she could forego some parts and increase others, such as have only only one leg and two of something else. Richard quipped that such a person would be twice the man that he was, and that was saying something.
Leaving Hanger Wood, we headed west and followed the land downhill, recrossed Chequers Lane and passing Harecramp cottages on our right. Here I think we rejoined the common trail. There followed a gentle meander up the valley towards Ibstone.
Around Twigside farm, the Marte turned the conversation to the cost of hair colouring. What was reasonable? Needless to say I did not have much to add on this subject. I just noted that a number of the menfolk were also nodding in agreement.
We crossed over the Ibstone high street and, keeping to high ground, made a circuitous loop around the village, coming out of the woodland near Manor farm. There was a wonderful view down the valley as we leaned on the farm gate. Immediately below us there was a model stable replete with well groomed horses and spotless riders. “Now that’s what I want to buy” said Helen. I suggested that Chris (her husband) had already bought it for her, as a surprise present for her birthday. “If Chris has bought that for me then he is going to be a very lucky man” said she. So over to you Chris. We have established the principle, you just have to negotiate a price.
With nothing more to say, we set off for “home”, following the side of the valley in a gentle decline back to the Bull and Butcher, noting that the closer we got the more of the trail marks had been erased by the locals.
The remainder of the evening passed pleasantly in the pub garden without being harassed by the locals for being too common.
Thank you Lesley for a lovely run.