"You may have noticed it rained last night ... and it rained yesterday afternoon ... and it rained the night before", said the Hares. "And what might that mean?", they inquired. "Puddles", offered one hasher. "Shiggy" suggested another. Both answers were of course very prophetic. "I remember a run from here where PP charged straight through a flood across the footpath", said Count Roadkill. "Hold that thought" was the hares' reply. Nonetheless, Sunday morning dawned bright and rain free and the outlook was most promising. Superior pre-run toilet facilities were made available, courtesy of the on-site camping/caravanning ground. With advice about porkers and sheep loose in one of the fields, shiggy, dangerous roads to cross, shiggy etc, the pack were let loose to search out the trail.
The Count checked out the longish falsie down the hill on the pub side of the road and had to clomp back up it again. "Thanks for that", he said. Soon we were on our way up to a check in front of the ruined church at Segenhoe, abandoned in the mid-19th century, derelict by 1912, marked for demolition in 1927, saved at the last minute, made safe, and is now a Grade I listed building. Segenhoe was the original Anglo-Saxon settlement that over many centuries slowly migrated to Ridgmont, perhaps because the beer there was better?
Capt Fantaaastic and Depth Charge missed a bar at the right-hand corner of the church tower and were called back by the lead hare. Does a bar mean go back to the last check? No it doesn't, but these FRBs decided to do just that and to check out the long falsie down the farm road instead. The bar actually meant go round the left-hand side of the church, as Underlay correctly observed, so back they came. In the mean time we met Blow Felt's henchman taking Blow Felt's moggie out for a walk carry.
Boot-grabbing shiggy was the main feature of the next section of the run, until we reached the field with three increasingly bigger puddles then pond then lake across the footpath. Forking DC decided to reprise PP's earlier role and charged straight into the latter water obstacle. Realising that he was about to experience a damp feeling in the crotch region, he stopped, hiked up his shorts and hoped for the best — a brave (or foolhardy) decision given that he hadn't brought any others to change in to. A wet crotch in pale coloured shorts was going to be difficult to explain away with any credibility.
At a held check on the Greensand Ridge Walk, we encountered Leroy and Jack who materialised, seemingly out of nowhere. Leroy, after arriving late, claimed he could hear us and followed his ears, aided no doubt by the nose of faithful Jack.
We soon reached the dangerous road (the M1 motorway) but got safely across to the other side by means of the conveniently placed bridge, and on to the track leading to Manor House Farm. Here the hares had the option of offering a shortcut while the FRBs would take the loop around the field up by the tree line. However given the leg-sapping effect of the shiggy already encountered it was decided to take the whole pack along the shortcut by the side of the motorway, crossing back over it again at the next bridge.
One last challenge faced the pack: the climb back up to Ridgmont, the name being a corruption of the French 'rouge mont' – red hill – after the colour of the sandy soil along the Greensand Ridge. Forking DC and Depth Charge correctly obeyed the bar at the bottom of the run in and took the path up across the dying woodland into the back of the pub, via of course the 'On Inn'. Clap Trap led Shagpile astray by missing the bar, finding the bar to the left put there to block any access from the 'On Out' at the start of the run and followed the unmarked path to the right. But being seasoned hashers they found their way back to the pub ok.
Back at the pub, Double Entry conducted a back-of-her-car Christmas cake tasting on behalf of a friend, with the verdict of all tasters being 'nicely moist'; I think it was the cake they meant, and not DE.
In the absence of both the HM and HMs, and the GM on haring duty, RA Shagpile took charge of the circle and after a hiccup with the run number, presented a couple of fine pints to the hares. DE gave Pongo's verdict on the run, with which Pongo, who was actually present, didn't disagree. Leroy, disparagingly accused the hares (falsely) of laying dust with a teaspoon – great handfuls were deposited, but it did get rained on overnight. Forking's shorts event did not go unnoticed and Clap Trap was punished for inducing mathematical malfeasance in the RA.
Finally the GM brought an H5ver of yesteryear, Matchstick, into the circle to point out that he (Ringer) had laid his first run with him all those years ago. Those intervening years have evidently not been kind to the GM's grey matter as subsequent research showed that this was total b*ll*cks, Capt F holding that dubious honour. Ah well, eternity beckons. Nevertheless, it was great to see Matchstick in the circle once again.
Next week's run is the first of a group of 'Cricketers' visit, this one being the one at Weston, so don't forget your 'whites'.
Ringer and Blow Felt
The Count says: The GM may be interested to note that the last Matchstick run The Count can identify is 577, in 2002. And thanks to the wonders of H5 archiving we know that in 1996 he hared with Capt F from The Rose and Crown, Ridgmont