Run Report 1511: The Olive Tree, Sutton Green

Bridge on the River K’Wey……
Scribed by Secret Squirrel

Contrary to some notions, the Pis’toff’en has run from this venue before, but when the pub’s name was The Fox & Hounds. Exhaustively brief research has shown that we were there at runs 630 and 978 and maybe a few other times before that. However it is a long time since we last started a run from this location and so prior knowledge was not much in evidence in the early stages. But before running we had to negotiate the car park challenge. Hawkeye admitted that he chose the venue because it has a large car park, but then he tried to persuade us all to use the most awkward corner of it so as not to frighten the locals. This was too much for those driving large 4x4s (and you know my views on those vehicles) and not helped by some idiosyncratic parking by those who had probably been too drunk to drive home the night before. But Dusty, arriving in what TIFM described as a “blown-up dinky toy” was able to squeeze into the middle of three free bays, despite the heckling of his passengers (Pis’t’man Pat and Secret Squirrel) and several onlookers.

Others assembling to the Speaking Clock’s satisfaction included Moondance, El Caudello, Wally, Sparkly, Scooby Doo, TomTom, and Florence/Daktari. Unbeknownst to us, early starters Sorry John and Nat-the-Hat were already on the trail, while Lazy Monkey, Cinderella and Prince Charming were loitering out of sight to give us all a good start. So 11 runners were in fact an unlucky 13 for a while, before becoming a lucky 16 in the end. Unlike last week the briefing was indeed brief, “Just a normal run, off you go, enjoy yourselves” – the relief at not being threatened with imminent death this week sent us skipping into the unknown.

For those trying to relate these remarks to the Garmin map we did an anti-clockwise circuit, though I suspect that the red line will look more star-shaped than circular, as the trail included some surprising double-backs and took in parts of Send not frequented by outsiders. TIFM tried to lead us past Sutton Park, Dusty led a brave charge south along the towpath, Scooby and Moondance were foiled by a vandalised cross near the fishing lake, all falsies! But TomTom was living up to his name in a purple patch that saw him guess correctly for at least 5 circles in a row. It was the turn to go south up Potters Lane towards the A3 that really fooled the rest of us and left a long chase to catch up with him once more. We then wove a devious route around the remoter parts of Send that caused Lazy Monkey (who had caught up with us by then) to comment how strange it is to live somewhere for 30 years and still be finding places you never knew existed.

The lead was changing hands frequently once more as TomTom’s luck had finally run out. By this time we had absorbed Nat-the-Hat and Sorry John into the pack, and then probably left them behind again. We emerged onto what I guess is known as Send Recreation Ground, with a circle and a tempting trail across it, but that just served to reverse the running order once more as we still had more ducking and diving around the back alleyways before passing between the fishing lakes to emerge on the canal towpath close to the New Inn (“Boo Hiss!!” – ask Billy Graham). We crossed back over the canal on a firm bridge and then over the river on dangerously collapsing bridge (ignoring signs that the footpath is closed because of that bridge – was Hawkeye trying to get rid of some of us?) before finally turning south for a very long run-in back to the pub. I think that Lazy Monkey, Dusty and Scooby Doo took the podium places (not that it is a race or anything) as the hare finally ran out of possibilities to deceive us, so that speed trumped low cunning in the final stages. We were mostly back around the hour, with Prince Charming and Cinderella shortly after – and the car park was still largely empty!

VERDICT: This was another original run from our birthday boy and Grand Master. Looking at the map afterwards I am astonished at the way a confusing trail was crafted from some unpromising material, especially the section around Send. You could say it was masterful, or a master class, but we don’t want his head to get too swollen, do we? Mind you he will never know how close it came to chaos when a vital cross was covered by leaves near the fishing lakes – if Scooby Doo or Moondance had continued for another 100 yards or so beyond where they turned around, they would have found a circle and the homeward trail and missed out all that excellent stuff around Send. Many thanks, you lucky boy, Andy!

AT THE PUB: In line with the empty car park, we found that the pub was almost empty when we got inside. Timothy Taylor was the ale of choice (with the rather too widely available Doombar as the alternative) and we were able to take over an area in front of a big log fire with a leather sofa for the first arrivals (how does El Caudello manage that so often?). Three bowls of chips already on order didn’t sound enough for Pis’t’man Pat, so he ordered one more and, sure enough, we managed to consume them all – with some debate as to the provenance of the mayonnaise supplied by the management. Amongst the many memorable conversations which will not be reported in these archives, we were urged by Nat-the-Hat (formerly “Tally” I think) to back her up with assurance that she does indeed run with us, as most of her family cannot believe this, so if anyone has photographic proof she would be grateful for a copy. We did manage to sing a tuneful rendition of the appropriate dirge to mark Hawkeye’s anniversary (the palindrome of TIFM’s age, in the Monty Python sense, for those of you who like puzzles). Dusty did sterling work stoking the fire, and the “craic” (as they say in Ireland) was as good as ever! Now I wonder what DoT-W will find to grumble about in that report?


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