“Some people will go to any lengths to avoid writing the run report”
Scribed by Secret Squirrel
It was fitting for the run closest to the autumn equinox that the weather should have changed decisively, from warm sunshine to warm rain. There had been a heavy downpour in the night but our hare, Quasimodo, had enjoyed a bright and sunny spell as he laid the trail and now, as we gathered in the old station carpark in Bramley, there were several pairs of anxious eyes scanning the heavens for signs of the impending deluge. With a variety of forecasts to hand there was pressure to start running early but wiser counsel prevailed and so two late-comers were able to start with the main pack.
Assembling on Platform 1 were some of the following: Sparkly (here as the official ‘starter’ but not actually taking part), Factor 30, Cynthia, Easily Overlooked, TIFM, Pistman Pat, Secret Squirrel, Ayrton Senna, Ginger Rogers, Venus, TomTom, and Scooby Doo. There was an unfortunate period when we unconsciously separated into two groups, distinguished solely by gender, but then, when an effort was made to merge these, the ladies complained that the quality of the conversation had declined (somehow we had got onto the subject of door-hinges, so they had a point). Our hare, Quasimodo, rescued us from this by giving his briefing – there was to be a re-group, and we needed to be careful in a carpark at some stage as the sawdust may have got moved. With SD still tying his shoe laces the weather watchers finally got their way and we set off.
For the second week running, there was a circle right at the start (Grrrrrhhh!) and once again I had explored two wrong directions before a call summoned us towards the main road and the petrol station. There we turned towards Guildford before escaping from the traffic up Clockhouse Lane. This is one of those fiendish routes that starts off as a level road and then gradually climbs more and more steeply as the surface deteriorates to track, path and finally to a gully. The challenge for elderly hashers is to see how far you can keep running as the going gets tougher. Unsurprisingly, AS had no trouble at all, and F30 was at least able to keep him in sight. PP blew up before the end of the tarmac as GR and V came through at a steady pace and kept it for a remarkably long way up the climb. Eventually we were released from our misery by a circle and a trail to the right, across an apparently deserted Bramley Golf Course (I guess that the forecast rain had put them all off playing, and at that stage we could see a horrendously stormy sky in the distance over the Hog’s Back).
We passed the hare, sitting in his car in the club carpark, and wondered if this was the location he had warned us about, with possible damage to the trail, but there was no problem. Down the hill again, we went, passing out through the gate and then making such a meal of the next circle that PP was able to take the lead when we finally found the correct trail heading north once more. I chose this moment to suggest to PP that he might like to write the run report and ‘big-up’ this section but he was blowing too much to reply. As we emerged onto Foxburrow Hill Road F30 took the lead but quickly lost it again when she missed the footpath heading out across the fields. On the next stretch we encountered several circles that had been placed more in hope than expectation of actually catching anyone out, as there were no apparent paths beyond the gates, so AS had no trouble in returning to his rightful place at the front. Coming out by the narrow road bridges over the River Wey, it would have been easy to miss the concealed stile and path across the fields on the Bramley side of the river but AS made no mistake so he and his constant shadow (F30) broke away decisively.
A brilliantly placed re-group restored cohesion to the pack, as we gathered on a bridge over the river and enjoyed some cool water, courtesy of the hare who had turned up again to watch over his little flock, while we watched an over-confident narrowboat owner nearly make a mess of going under our bridge with its tricky bend just after. EO chided Quasimodo for not also bringing cake, which seemed a little harsh but was only in jest. Tearing ourselves away with difficulty we had an immediate choice between the towpath to the south and that to the north, my hopes went south while TomTom chose north and the glory of leading the hash for a while. It is easy to stop thinking as you wend your way around the many bends in the river and so the next circle caused a fair amount of havoc. I think that the correct trail cut off to the left, through some scrub, towards the A3100 and Venus, Cynthia and Easily Overlooked probably went that way. Thinking I knew better, I pressed on along the towpath on a long falsie and then tried to short-cut back to join the trail where I guessed it would be coming back to the towpath – wrong again! It seems that I managed to mislead AS, F30 and TIFM as well (at least the Sparkly-o-meter track recorded by AS followed my route) and so we emerged back on the trail where it crossed the A3100 some way behind those ‘3 Graces’. But our hare was on hand once again to shepherd his flock through the parking areas of the Guildford and Godalming Rugby Club just as the rain began to come down in earnest.
We followed a rough concrete road parallel to the A3100 past many parked cars, and PP was making a great effort along here whilst puffing and blowing when suddenly there was a sharp intake of breath just behind me followed by an enormous crash. Around the world seismometers twitched and earthquake monitors prepared to launch tsunami warnings. Just like Virgil last week, PP had tried to kick the concrete out of his way and had been felled like a sack of coal. There were several hashers on hand to help him up and luckily Quasimodo was still with us, so his car became a temporary ambulance to take yet another wounded hasher away. On the bright side for PP, this gave him an adequate excuse for not writing this run report but it is a pretty extreme way to evade that task.
With the rain now falling more heavily we (most of us) took a sharp left turn in the carpark near the main clubhouse before completing most of a lap around the rugby pitches beyond it. This reminded me of tales shortly after I joined the PH3 in 1987 of the ‘worst trail ever set’ which according to legend simply circulated around the outer edges of this rugby club’s fields. (I have just looked up the archives and found the report for run 125 on 2/2/1986 which was set by Plates from the Rugby Club, attracted a then record of 15 runners, and was seemingly chaotic but evidently did get beyond the boundaries of the rugby fields for some of the route – so you shouldn’t believe all legends). After the rugby fields we ran around some bowling greens but for a while missed the correct exit through a hedge and into the crematorium carpark. There were a few themes going on here as this was our third carpark of the morning, and the progression from rugby to bowls and then to the ovens in just a few minutes was distinctly alarming!
At least the mix-up at the bowling greens had bunched us together again as we headed through the woods towards Peasmarsh. Once again good sense deserted me at a circle when I opted to follow F30 instead of AS; it was a very long falsie and so only F30 was behind me when I finally re-crossed the A3100. We went back to the river and followed it until we could cross it on the old railway line for a long run-in to Bramley. I am pleased to see that AS did double-back from a cross near the end to follow the marked trail via Eastwood Road, but I have to admit that along with Cynthia and Venus at the back I followed the incorrect but direct route back to the station.
The rain was now pouring down heavily and so changing into clean clothes for the pub represented a challenge. PP had solved this by using the open-sided shelter on the opposite platform and so the rest of us soon adopted it as the boys’ changing-room, despite its total lack of privacy from the girls in the carpark. This greatly amused GR as we went through difficult contortions to preserve our modesty – but at least we kept dry!
It was much later that we discovered that Scooby Doo had not returned. This was a bit worrying as he had been looking quite pale at the regroup and nobody remembered seeing him after the rugby club – but this wasn’t enough motivation to organise a search party in the teeming rain once we had all changed into dry clothes, so we went off to the pub and hoped he would show up soon.
Verdict: We started in the dry and returned soaking wet, but mostly remarkably cheerful. We felt well looked after with those frequent sightings of the hare and had been brought together quite a few times despite the obvious difference in speed between AS and the rest of us. This was the first time I had seen those bowling greens even though they are within walking distance of my home so that is a notable feat for the hare. And at my age it probably makes sense to have done a reccie of the new crematorium buildings! Thank you, Quasimodo, for setting us a teasing and mainly flat trail which withstood both rain and car wheels to be followable all morning.Verdict:
At the Pub: We walked (after some debate about whether to drive) round to The Jolly Farmer. This is a proper beer drinkers’ pub which always has a good selection of real ales in excellent condition – and this morning was no different. Most of us preferred the Five Hops ale from the Crafty Brewery at Dunsfold over the blonder Albion Ale (I’ve forgotten the brewery for that one), but these were so good that we weren’t tempted to try any of the others on offer. All the tables were reserved but we were allowed to occupy one long table “until 1 o’clock” so we set to drinking a little faster than usual. Sadly, this pub does not do chips on a Sunday so Quasimodo bought lots of peanuts and exotic crisps. Despite his best efforts to clean himself up, PP was still bleeding from one elbow but not so much as to impede his drinking arm. A huge cheer went up when Scooby Doo arrived about 20 minutes after everyone else, he had missed the turn by the rugby clubhouse apparently (though why he failed to see the 10 hashers milling around the bowling greens ahead of him I don’t know). A smaller cheer went up when the landlord advised us that we could keep the table, so the people who had reserved it had evidently cancelled (fair-weather customers). We learned something of TomTom’s plans for an extended journey to South Africa and its neighbours that he will be undertaking in a few weeks’ time, so hope that we will see him on a few more hashes before he goes. TIFM will shortly make his annual pilgrimage to Queensland Australia. In the light of these departures the PH3 cannot afford any more injuries (even Cynthia was sporting scars from a recent hashing tumble, or so she claimed) such as Virgil last week and PP this week – so please, folks, look where you are going and stop kicking the concrete!