Friday 18 November 2011

Ponte de Lima

We were lucky with the weather when PH3 trotted up to Ponte de Lima for the last weekend of October, as temperatures rose to around twenty and blue skies gave the perfect backdrop to one of the loveliest areas of the Minho. Spanker and I were alone on Friday night, having done most of the setting (or so we thought) for the two hashes that day. We had a most pleasant evening in the tapas and straightforward bars that make the town feel decidedly Spanish and wonderfully vibrant. We knew we both had a bit of work to do the next day, but not so much as to inhibit a good night out. I had to fill in the gaps I'd left in case anyone should arrive early enough to stumble upon them (which of course no-one would do since we were the only ones there already); Spanker and co-hare Walkie-Talkie had set their hash completely, only to decide at the end that it would be better done in reverse. Still, that would be easy enough.

Come Saturday morning we found oursleves on our second 'wait for Noel' - this was something of a motif for the weekend, and as it turned out, not only for us. By the time I had finished mine, taking longer than I had expected, the first of the hashers had started to arrive and before long everyone due to hash on Saturday (not too many, as it happened - the curse of Plunger struck again) was ready and waiting to go. The meet time of one o'clock came and went, but still we were without Spanker, or W-T, who was not hashing but due at his Uncle and Auntie's for lunch. The clock ticked and ticked; we kicked our heels and waited. At five to two Spanker called, saying that they were five minutes away. From the car. But the car was parked no more than ten minutes from the hotel. Half an hour later, like a scene from Cagney and Lacey, a car screeched to a halt by the hotel and out leapt Spanker, flying into the hotel from which she soon re-emerged, clad to hash, whilst her partner sped off to meet his destiny - big trouble with Auntie and Uncle for being late (I presume they had met Noel before, but anyway).

So, finally, we were off.

The hash went from the hotel and included a quiz (pre-warned), based on observation, but things did not bode well on that front as everyone blithely trotted past the first historical information board. There was also a competition to collect the most green strings, in which Little Voice utterly trounced all opposition to take the prize.

In the warm sunshine we made our way through the old centre of the town before heading to its outskirts, the famous Ponte de Lima wine co-operative (funnily enough, most hashers did observe that detail), and the cattle market as we turned back along the riverside heading for the Roman bridge. On the other side of the river we stopped for spritzers on the lovely wooded bank looking back at the town, hazily tucked beneath the rising hills. The pit stop came at a convenient time for Tigger, who had given himself a chronic stitch by hurtling like a cartoon tiger around an ornamental garden that he found aesthetically pleasing (a very good spot, he declared upon entry) but physically discombobulating. Another half hour or so round mossy lanes and passages brought us to the high road bridge above town, and down to a finish at about an hour and twenty-five, a decent time for a hash that was well run by all.

Down-downs saw Joe Dyer named as Master Baker and then we retired to rest and oblute before dinner. Or rather, before waiting for Walkie-Talkie so that we could go to dinner. When we did, it was to feast upon great quantities of grilled meat and plentiful servings of local wine, being joined by some of the latecomers as we did so. Spanker won the observation quiz with a magnificent total of three right answers, out of about twelve, and to celebrate we headed to the tapas bars, so that the newly-arrived Hard Drive could eat and the children could throw bits of bread at passers-by from an upstairs window. All was going fine until Claire found English cider in a local bar, at which point it all threatened to get a bit messy.

Fortunately, we had an extra hour, a fact of which Hard Drive informed the entire hotel floor when he arrived back at about three a.m.. After breakfast the next morning we - our numbers swollen overnight (I said, numbers) - assembled outside the hotel ... to wait for Noel. When he arrived we made a rather tricky way to the start and set out on one of the barmiest hashes in some time.

The cause of their late return to base the day before had been the fact that they had got lost. On their own, already-set, hash. They had even considered, with Baldrick-like cunning, that we might just follow signs in reverse ('Run away from the signs! If you see a sign, run the other way!"), but fortunately thought better, but this did mean that at various points we could have gone on one of about three hashes, as most of the signs were still there, regardless of whether they were still in use. As it happened Inspect My Gadget did indeed embark on a couple of these alternative hashes, which made life interesting, as did the hares getting lost yet again on a couple of occasions. There were even lamp posts that had contrived to end up with arrows on both sides, each pointing the opposite way. We also managed to pick up a little dog, whom the children christened Fluffy, and who did almost the entire hash with us. It was stunningly beautiful at times, mind, and the pit stop, at a tiny bar in a converted watermill beside a lovely cascade was an absolute gem.

Down-downs saw Claire christened Ladyboy (young Tigger's suggestion of Gagging Cock was passed over with many a lip having to be painfully bitten) and then we headed to bash on Rojões a moda de Ponte de Lima, complete with excellent Papas do Serrabulho as a sauce for those who wanted it. Flasher was unimpressed, but the rest of us thoroughly enjoyed it to round off an excellent weekend.

Don't forget to click on the link below to see the pictures.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Donnellys at the Double

Squirrel and Gnasher stepped in to set this one, which, in Snorter's words, was never going to be a long'un; indeed it wasn't, but on another beautiful, sunny day this was an excellent jaunt around the coastal strip south of Espinho, and at an hour and a quarter running time for the front runners would still have caused Lisbon hashers to raise their eyebrows.

At the beginning, young Tigger, self-declared RA for the day due to Droopy's absence (oh, how quickly the power gets to them!), was scouring for signs below the level of his knees, on the reasoning that the hares were not very tall. By the time he had raised his head, we realised that we were on the wrong path and the hash headed towards the dunes.

We had three hash dogs with us, but that was temporarily reduced to two when the Donnellys' Charlie disappeared, but he was back with us by the time we made the pit stop - Buck's Fizz beside the beach (actually, in a car park near the beach, but that sounded more romantic and alliterative). At that stage we had already had our hash thunder (no, that's not what came from Bunbasher after the bash) stolen when the curiosity of the locals as we blundered past was diverted by a rather motley parade of bikers arrived noisily for their seaside outing. Brighton 1963 this wasn't, but it excited some of the local boys, who pursued them on pushbikes chanting, oddly, 'Esmoriz, olé' as if to show these invaders whose turf they were in. Or near, at any rate.

After finishing with a good, long run-in and dealing with the down-downs, it was, of course to the 'chicken place' in Arcozelo for the bash, at which the post-prandial brandies made a pleasant return.

So, we are into Walkie-Talkie zone now, with two successive hashes set by him, including the weekend affair in Ponte de Lima next weekend (itself a double header, don't forget). Soon after, we will have news of other events coming up, such as the Jingle Bells - start thinking up those costumes - and the 400th, in the Caminha area at the start of February.

On, on.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Is it something I said?

Well, after the low attendances for my two hashes, commented upon in the last post, numbers have risen dramatically. If they drop off again for the next one I set, I'll start to get paranoid.

Anyway, after a respectable eighteen for Titchy Percy and Pink Extender's short but demanding run in mid-September, a very healthy twenty-six appeared for the next, Inspect My Gadget and Kitty Fiddler's jaunt around Modivas, although I reckon the promise of the home-cooked Mexican bash was the prime draw (and with good reason, as it turned out). As I write, ahead of Squirrel and Gnasher's Espinho affair, we are expecting another twenty-plus outing, so long may it continue.

Let's go back to no.388. I still don't know where it took place, and TP couldn't remember by the time we'd got back to town. With such an obscure location it makes sense to arrive together, in a convoy, following directions, which we did. Except for Mrs Slocombe. Being the nice hash we are, we waited half an hour for him to arrive, despite grumpy mutterings about 'my day...' from some of the more senior brethren. Having set a profile for himself, he continued in the same vein, and the sight of him puffing up a hill to a rest and viewpoint just at the point that the rest of us decided we had rested and viewed sufficiently remains in my mind. Oh, the look of despair and loathing in those usually sparkly eyes. Most amusing (well I am a teacher - causing anguish and hatred is part of my raison d'être).

It was a hilly hash, but only about an hour and a quarter in time, so Squirrel's refusal to attend due to TP being a hare was perhaps a little hasty. The bash, in a place one would never identify as a restaurant, was splendid, a good introduction to virgins, Joe and Claire, and in the general spirit of lubrication, it was decided that Droopy needed an assistant as RA. Clearly the sneakiest hasher, based on that morning's showing, was Tigger, who was duly installed.

His first opportunity to use his newly-aquired powers came two weeks later as we assembled beside Modivas metro stop. It was, once again, a belter of a day, our Indian Summer showing no sign of abatement, and the sweat was soon pouring as we made our way around some patches familiar from several recent hashes yet nicely reconstructed. With Kitty Fiddler slaving over hot stoves for the bash, IMG had to control twenty-five hashers single-handedly. I'd like to say he did so immacculately, but as he managed to lose me on about the third checkpoint, a fact of which I believe he remains oblivious, I think it might be better to say that the hash sort of held itself together. With some long runs (classic IMG-style), the crowd was quite often stretched as a number of people found it surprisingly tough. It was hot and, once again, pit-stop free (what has happened to pit-stops - is it the crise economico?) and with the hare measuring the distance at about eleven kilometres a one hour forty-nine finish time was reasonable, if not exactly record-breaking. Droopy made the American contingent feel warm and welcome at the down-downs by punishing IMG for Americanisms in his pre-hash briefing (and, Droopy, don't forget that he is a Maths teacher) then Tigger went all bashful at his big moment but whispered in Droopy's ear like a conspirator in a Greek tragedy.

So, on we go to Espinho, with a number of enticing events on the horizon, including a weekend in Ponte da Lima, the Jingle Bells, with Chalky and Hooker back in town, and the 400th hash weekend in Caminha.

On, on!

Saturday 10 September 2011

Back with a very small bang

So, after the longer than expected summer break we are back on the hashing trail. Only the 'we' has been rather wee. The hash I set shortly after getting back to Porto initially appeared to have attracted a healthy enough group, but by the time we were ready to go, on a balmy Friday evening, it had diminished to a mere six stalwarts, the second lowest in PH3 history. Still, we did it, crossing both tiers of the Ponte Dom Luis in a circuit that took in historic areas of both Porto and Gaia. Titchy Percy stood out by checking for three or four others, often dealing with a checkpoint entirely on his own before the others reached it. All in all it was not a bad little hash, coming in at about an hour and a half, so, if you missed it, well you missed out.

If you missed it, the chances are that you also missed the next one, which the sturdy six decided would follow the following Friday, as that one attracted only nine. Also in town, leaving from Lapa church (which still had signs visible from a hash precisely a year and a day earlier) and covering a number of areas used in various ways over various hashes down the years as well as some new ground, it took in a fair bit of Boavista and Cedofeita. In contrast to the marks at Lapa, when we hit a checkpoint I'd used last week, the signs there had gone completely, but then so had certain hashers' memory of where they had been anyway. The pace was good and, again, we finished in about ninety minutes, after which there was a fair bit of Official Business for nine people, with a virgin, Hard Drive's 200th, and Anita Quigley's naming, with Kitty Fiddler finally decided upon, for reasons she may wish to relate over a bash bottle of wine some time. Slightly alarmingly, perhaps, she seemed quite taken with it.

Anyway, on to hash 388, for which, at the moment (Saturday), we have a decent turn out. But I'm not holding my breath!

Thursday 7 July 2011

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Albeit a day prematurely, we assembled last sunday for a fourth of July hash, set by Mrs Slocombe and me in the rural surrounds of Mosteiró and Vilar, near Modivas. There was a fair smattering of red, white and blue, with Hard Drive sporting a stars and stripes bikini top, which he managed amply to fill, almost to the envy of some of the female hashers. Quiz answers were provided at fifteen checkpoints but the questions were held until trhe end - the winner was, perhaps inevitably, one of the Americans, Nancy. Flasher, having in out-of-character fashion necked a beer upon finishing, was demonstrating why all around her steer her away from such wanton behaviour, teetering about and demanding that Nancy be 'discarded' - presumably on grounds of nationality.

The hash itself was of decent length, about sixteen kilometres without checking, and the running was strong and consistently maintained. We decided to forego the planned pit stop lest the momentum be lost through Superbock and stiffening legs and it finished at around two hours ten/fifteen. The ground was good for running although there was relatively little road work. We started through a cornfield freshly sprayed with muck and coninued through a mixture of fields, woods and back lanes, dusty, ripe with silage and with a stream to cool the feet with thrown in for good measure. On three occassions we crossed the previous hash, but as the only hashers other than me to have done that one were Hard Drive, Spanker, Droopy and Tongue Fu, there was little chance of anyone noticing, even though we used the earlier signs at one point.

Down-downs saw Spanker mark her 210th hash, two virgins - Greer and Aude - make their bow, and a few other misdemenours marked before a few went off to the American Community barbie at the OBS.

Now Spanker and I are away for a few weeks, but hopefully things will continue in the meantime. Until August ... on, on!

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Douro II

I wrote the last post over a month ago, just before setting off up the Douro for the weekend hash up there; and what a magnificent weekend it was. Having driven through a thunderstorm on the way up, the advance guard arrived at the beautiful Quinta de la Rosa, just outside Pinhão, and awaited those who followed in the balmy early Summer evening. The weather was hinting at how good it would be over the following couple of days.

The next morning was spent around one or other of the pools, or mooching about the town, or seeking extra beer having realised how much would be needed, except for the hares, of course, who were off setting the hash, a process apparently somewhat slowed by Walkie-Talkie's timekeeping and fag breaks (I say 'apparently' because it is so hard to believe).

A gentle, picturesque walk from the village of Provosende back down to Pinhão preceded a fine and generous wine tasting and tour at the Quinta. It was noticeable how many more appeared for that part than the walk, although we were yet to see Big Stick. That point arrived at dinner, by which point he still had not checked into the pensão, prompting him instead to opt for the sofa in one of the Quinta's houses (and breakfast, it should be noted). The dinner was great value and the drinks then flowed freely beneath the vines at the Quinta until, one by one, people dropped by the wayside.

On Sunday we assembled, a nice large group, for the hash, only to discover that we needed to make a large detour to get to the start, at the end of which I, for one, was reeling with car queaziness. However, it wasn't a long hash, although interesting and attractive (and hot), weaving in and around Lamego. Down-downs were quite involved, with several virgins, some birthdays (including my 200th), a naming (Jo Thorpe becoming Pink Extender - thank you Little Voice) and the usual array of plonkers needing punishment. Another great bash followed to conclude a top weekend.

Friday 20 May 2011

Ave Breezer

Having missed the previous hash, set by Spin Doctor and Walkie-Talkie, Spanker and I were raring to go when we convened for Inspect My Gadget and Gender Bender's run in Vila do Conde. True, Spanker would rather have done it on horseback and there was a distinct lack of lithe gauchos on hand to ease her passage, but it was good to be back.

In the end, it was a select group of twelve that made it, starting with a whisper of sun on our backs from Vila do Conde mettro stop. This was only after waiting for Snorter to return from the Club to Miramar and back, having arrived without the key to his car, in which lay his hasing kit. There is indeed no such thing as a smooth start to a hash.

Anyway, off we trotted (I'd love to use a more dynamic verb, like 'bounded', 'charged', or 'spang', but I am bound to realism) away from the town and around the football ground. Due to bouts of heavy rain overnight (according to the hares - most of us living in town had only their word for this) there were few chalk signs to be found. Mind you, it was about fifteen minutes before I saw a sign of any variety, so perhaps the hash sign pixies had been to work.

We wound around the margins of the town, over the river and through the woodland on the other side, often touching on old routes, but maintaining a sense of something original. After a while, the clouds drew in and then opened, giving us a few fairly heavy dousings before easing off once again. It was enough to persuade us to eschew a pit stop at a café in the town, so we carried on, moving through the old cobbled streets until heading home. Predictably enough, Bunbasher decided he knew the route home and headed off near the end; almost as predictably, he got it wrong, went in the wrong direction, and got home last.

For all my jibes about the pace at which we set off, this was notable for the fact that there was almost no walking, the whole way round, apart from Droopy, who took about five minutes to break into a shuffle. We were back in time for a leisurely drink before the bash, and down-downs featured most people. It was nice to welcome back Ren for his second hash, around a year after his first, and duly punish his absence.

Friday 15 April 2011

A Tale of Two Squirrels Episode Two: the one where Monica reached 100

A week after The Great Moan of Mindelo, Squirrel was back, her old self once again, in new(ish) trainers and determined to run. Deviant and Flasher had put this one together, with a start and finish in Arcozelo, although Horny managed to get us all comfortably parked in the wrong car park, the wrong side of the cemetary, through which we all then traipsed in our Sunday best. This one also saw the return of Boozy Woozy, now resident in London, and that brought back Family Jewels and Twirly, as well as a couple of Twirly's friends, who, sadly fell by the wayside rather early on. Definitely not falling, though, was Alex Mutter, who ran his socks off, eventually pipping me to the post in a thrilling sprint finish that must have had the watching throngs dreaming of the Olympics in 2020. His overall bounciness - seen at several excited moments on this one alone - later earned him the name of Tigger, which seemed apt. Meanwhile, his sister, Anna, as usual, glided round the hash in her usual manner, determined and unflappable, and was named Then there was Squirrel, a different runner completely from the week before, marking her 100th hash in fine form. The hares had nothing to fear this week, although the previous week's hares' absence might have reflected their trepidation upon realising that her hashing trainers had not been hung up after all. With another decent turnout of 22 who stayed the distant, down-downs in the sunny afternoon took a while before we repaired to a local spot for the bash

A Tale of two Squirrels - Episode One: The one where Monica lost the plot...

Hash 278 saw us assembled at the seafront in Vila Chã, a cool wind coming off the waves to mask what was actually quite a warm day. Within minutes of the start various hashers were discarding the extra clothing they had donned on emerging from the cars. Titchy Percy and Adam O'Connor were the architects of this one, that took in a good deal of road work, often over quite punishing cobbles and that saw some substantial gaps emerge at times among the nineteen runners (yes, I will use the word, because Walkie-Talkie was glimpsed through a gap in the trees, like one of those old grainy film clips of Big Foot lurching through the American wilderness, running at one point). Running past TP and Gender Bender's house raised brief hopes of an early pit stop, but that was delayed until we reached Angeiras, after about an hour and a half. You'd have thought that the following four-kilometre run more or less along the beach home would have been a welcome, pleasant finish, but when the majority had reached the finish and were tucking into the beer and crisps, the final stragglers were still way behind, so down-downs began. As Tony Robson was awarded the name Inspect-My-Gadget, Walkie-Talkie, Squirrel and the injured Rhythm Stick emerged from the beach, darkly. Welcomed straight into the cirlcle, Squirrel took her beer with rather more than rodent-like gentleness, swearing and vowing never to hash again, threatening the hares with all manner of physical harm, and declaring a rule that hashes should not exceed and hour and a half. It was, indeed, a flounce to remember, and as, the bashing few sat down to their (rather good) food, the questions came: would Squirrel hash again? would the hares be safe in Miramar? what would it have been like if she'd been pissed? Only time would tell...

Saturday 26 March 2011

Fânzeres Frolics

At the risk of sounding as though I'm a catholic in confession, forgive me, hashers: it has been a few weeks since my last post, in which time I have committed two hashes.

Still in February, the two Tonys, Robson and Baker, took us to an obscure area of village, woods and farmland inland from Espinho. It was a good hash, with two namings and a 190th birthday, but I won't dwell on it now - it's all in the hash diary, which comes with me to every hash and bash.

No, enough of talking about other people: let's talk about me. Originally, last week's hash was to be hared by Spanker and me, but my better half couldn't get out of bed on the Saturday morning, so two became one and I set off to set it. The new metro extension was my focus, but as I found out in time, the final station is not exactly where its name would have you believe so I had a bit of a walk before finding a suitable starting point. The slightly convoluted start was echoed on the way to the hash itself, thanks to Hard Drive - who had earlier expressed his mistrust of Google Maps' directions, which I had used - deciding to divert the convoy on a magical mystery tour all of his own creation, for which he later received the requisite down-down.

Eventually, we reached the start. The hills that rise above Valongo had been noted as the cars approached, and, to no-one's great surprise, I think, that was the way we headed. It was a fabulously warm day for March, obviously adding to the joy of the upward paths, but the route meandered rather than took the direct line, so we kept reasonably together and fluid. The views as we ascended were fabulous, stretching down to Gaia, over Porto, the refinery then to Maia and beyond. I knew that once we reached the ridge at the top and headed to the inevitable little chapel, we would be able to take comfort from the café there, so as I brought the tail-enders in to where the rest were enjoying the views and waiting for whatever liquid treat I surely had in store for them, I looked towards the little brick block. That was closed. That was supposed to have been open. Bugger.

Oh well, on, on it is then.

We took another path back along the ridge, gradually veering away from our route out and arriving in the terrain of the paint-ballers. To escape their stray capsules we scrambled down a thickly wooded slope (very Brunei-Babe-friendly) but by this time all my talk of gunfire had rather spooked Alex Mutter, who transformed into the scardiest little hasher for the next few minutes, fearing imminent attack, fearing the downward path we had arrived on, fearing stones and shadows, but, unwisely, failing to fear the increasingly frazzled nerves of his mother.

We got back after about an hour and a half, with plenty of time before the bash, which unfortunately gave time for me to receive multiple down-downs. Excellent chicken and plenty of wine was the order of the day for lunch before we tried to work out how to get home from there. Hard Drive kept quiet.

On, on!

Tuesday 22 February 2011

The Lurrve Hash

After all the planning it arrived: the 275th weekend, our first overnighter since the Douro hash last March - far too long, but certainly good for building up anticipation.

On the Friday night, fifteen of us hurried through the monsoon rain to reach Alcobaça for the start of it all. Our nice, little hotel afforded fine views over to the monastery, or, for the Mutters, Horny and children, over a concrete roof and drainpipes, but we weren't there for the rooms and so, once everyone had arrived, it was off to a local café and then to dinner, at a great little place serving copious amounts of good but cheap food and some red wine that was not so much well aged as requiring a zimmer frame and constant reminders. Alex Mutter resisted all attempts by the waiter to tempt, cajole and, finally, bully him into eating his vegetable soup, but by the end of the meal was quiet for probably the only time over the weekend - laid out asleep over a couple of chairs. Outside, we drank beer in the drizzle in front of a buzzing local café bar that played old eighties classics and was so full of smoke that it could have been on fire.
The next morning saw a slow start as we waited for everyone else to arrive. The slow start was welcome for one or two after the night before, and the late congregation in the hotel lobby inevitable for a bunch of hashers. We began without the latest arrivals (would you believe that Walkie-Talkie, Mrs Slocombe and Hot Pants were among these?) and embarked on a walk-quiz around the town, in pairs determined by random allocation of romantic figures (Romeo with Juliet and son on). My partner, Molly Costello, proved somewhat elusive, so I made my own way round, rather haphazardly collecting answers. We all criss-crossed one another, generally going in the right direction. And then there was Titchy Percy and Bunbasher, moving with the co-ordination of a wasp you've just just turfed out of your pint on a summer afternoon. Answers were given before dinner, with the winners being ... well not me, so who cares? Dinner was another pleasant affair, followed by games in the bar led by the young Mutters. Alex's 'Who's in the Bag' efforts were memorable, as was Bunbasher's attempt to discover that he was ?Hello Kitty'.
Eventually, we came to the hash itself. After a bit of a drive, we came to the start point, amidst the rain, which had lessened (and continued so to do) since breakfast, but which had seen of several expected hashers pull out (hang your heads in shame, wimpy hashers!). Soon, we were heading up, and up, through thick, spiky undergrowth ranged on the steep, rocky ground of the big hill above the cars. Alex's regular inquiries as to whether we were nearly at the top failed to bring the top any closer, but did elicit some very un-maternal comments from Horny. His observation that you wouldn't get Anne Widdicombe doing this brought unequivocal agreement: never has a truer, or more random, word been said. When we reached the top, and a path, shrouded in thick mist, we all sighed with relief: now for some running, we all declared, possibly with the exception of Walkie-Talkie. So we ran, to a pit stop of bubbly, strawberries and no view whatsoever, then ran again, for about two minutes until the descent began, through thick, spicy under (and over-)growth ranged on the steep, rocky ground of the big hill above the cars. For a moment there was a path again, and off we scampered, but no! said the hares, we'll have no running here - go through these bushes. Bugger, we all muttered, and went through the bushes. At the end, reaching an on-back replaced from the beginning, the front-runners left for home, leaving those following to compete in a three-legged race home, won by Spanker and Anita.
Before the bash we voted for the most resplendantly pink-bedecked hasher, and despite vaguely obscene efforts from Anita and Tony, this was won by Bunbasher, looking like Just Gay William. His prize was to wear a crown all through the bash, which greatly pleased him.
The bash itself was anexcellent end to an excellent weekend that will live long in the memory (and whose scars have proved fairly resiliant on my legs). Well done to Brunei Babe and Inaction Man for the great deal of organisation and effort that went into it.

Friday 11 February 2011

Guifoes Gambol

Gender Bender stepped in at the last moment as a co-hare with Spanker and they took us on the short journey north to Guifoes for this one. We were joined by Hooker, on a weekend visit and looking as sprightly as ever, despite the exertions of the night before at Horny's fortieth birthday bash. The event did take its toll, however, with Horny herself absent and Big Stick and Pretty Vacant appearing somewhat fragile. The urgency of the fragility became apparent when they disappeared up a street as we got out of the cars to start. When BS returned he discretely told everyone that PV required the use of a random stranger's smallest room, so they had knocked on some door and asked to use the toilet.

Eventually, we were all ready, and set off past the eforementioned house, just to cement the bewilderment, no doubt. It was straight into the Sunday morning bustle of the village centre, wary eyes tracking us, cars and buses threatening to squash us over the cobbles before we headed away from the numbers, finding quieter streets, fields and woods. At one point we headed down a hill through some woodland and into a thicket that became increasingly overgrown with hacking brambles, leaving those of us who ventured deepest to emerge with bleeding shins reminiscent of ex-GM, Chalky. When it turned out to be an on-back, Inaction Man, like a tracker, foraging forward, returned to inform the next contingent that our wounds had been sustained in vain. As GM, however, I had to ask where the red string was and, on hearing that it was still in place, I had to instruct IM to go back into the worst of the brambly inferno, never mind the cost to his socks. He knew his duty. Without a word, he went back in.

Crossing the paths of at least three other hashes at various points, we wound a clever course round the area. Near home, Bunbasher headed back on his own route, in customary fashion - it was a case of 'we'll never get him back if he checks that way, so just let him go' - but on the right track Hard Drive was away, flying, a hundred yards ahead of the chasing pack. "Go on, Hard Drive," came Spanker's cry. "You can do it!" The trouble was, he still did not know where he was, even with the cards ahead of him. It was, perhaps, the worst sprint finish in hash history, but at least he could console himself with the sight of Bunbasher making uncomfortable progress over the churned field he had made his own, vastly more difficult, way back. Except he probably didn't see thet, either.

At down-downs it was revealed that this was Bunbasher's 250th, unknowingly marked by his 250th hash t-shirt, or what wasleft of it. Then, following a few beers, it was round to a nearby restaurant for another excellent value bash.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Hashy New Year

Back after the Christmas break, fifteen hashers assembled in the village of Burgães, near Santo Tirso, for this blow-out, hared by Titchy Percy and me. We were joined by Extremely Green, a visiting hasher from Madrid H3, and were hampered in our explanation of our markings by the fact that the rain that had hit on Friday afternoon and throughout Saturday had been of (cold) monsoon proportions, washing away most of the chalk. Fortunately, we had used a lot of string, so the trail was more or less picked up.

After an on-back within minutes the worst may have been feared, but it was the only one on the largely rural, partly village route and in fact the whole hash took less than an hour and a half, without a pit stop, which I thought was kind of us at this time of year. Our other visitor, Paul, Family Jewel's brother-in-law, with us for the second time, may not have felt us so kind as he managed to check steeply downhill wherever a steep downhill presented itself and was not the right direction. 'All part of the game,' he was heard to mutter through grimly gritted teeth.

Unwittingly, we had set partly on the same course as Big Stick and Snorter not so long back, and they spent the last third of the hash reminding us and anyone else in the area of the fact, knowingly pointing out which direction it could be, couldn't be, was or wasn't. This held us up for a while when they knew absolutely that it was not down a particular cobbled path. Which of course it was. 'Well, this was completely overgrown when we...' grumbled Big Stick as he hauled himself up the old, paved path.

When the end came, it did so suddenly, much to most people's delight. Extremely Green seemed to have enjoyed it and liked the fact that we try to keep everyone together, rather than leave people behind. Mind you, there have been times...

With the usual bash to follow in a friendly little tasca, without Snorter who wanted to rush back to Porto to watch Liverpool lose (when he could have watched Liverpool lose in the restaurant just as miserably), the hashing new year seemed nicely seen in.