Saturday 8 December 2012

When is a hare not a hare?

When it's a rabbit?  Or when it's Walkie Talkie.

The great, chatty pedestrian had volunteered to co-hare the latest event, with Master Baker after a series of alternatives had come and gone.  All fine and dandy, then, until a series of events that remain somewhat obscure despite lengthy explanation required MB to set the hash - from the outlet centre near Vila Cha - on his own.  Never mind, at least Walkie Talkie would be there on the day; he vaguely knew the route and could trot along at the back picking up the strings, and he had arranged the pit stop.  However, even the greatest of plans can unravel, and, without wishing to be uncharitable, it might be stretching things to include this amongst the greatest of plans, so unravel it did, with remarkable ease. 

Within half an hour or so, he had turned back having lost his car keys.  How they had managed to fall out of the highly secure pocket of those trusty and well-worn jogging bottoms is a mystery, but there you are.  We managed to survive without him for the next forty minutes or so, until, horror of horrors, we arrived at the pit stop cafe only to find that there was no Walkie Talkie with money for finos!  Fortunately, virgin Helen, one of five debutants, had brought some cash with her so the day was saved, but it was tense there for a moment.  The look on Snorter's face...

Anyway, the hash was very nicely put together and covered plenty of new ground considering its location in an area well-trodden in recent years.  It had a good mix of terrain and plenty of lengthy stretches in which to get the lungs going, with some long checks so that the distance was enough to stretch everyone, not least newcomers Francisco and Paula Corte-Real who had turned up dressed perfectly for a gentle stroll along a carefully tended country path but somehow managed to keep up.

With five virgins, one hare, Twirlie's 40th hash birthday (the moment of outrage on the part of a couple of the virgins when I declared that she was 40 without realising I meant in hashes was quite amusing) and the inimitable Walkie-Talkie, there were plenty of down-downs to be had, which stand-in RA, Horny, compounded by giving most of them a second one.  Then it was off to the restaurant in Vila Cha and the moment for Walkie Talkie finally to come good, which he did with aplomb as, despite some rather haphazard service, it was a splendid bash and very good value. 

On to hash 420, and he is having another go.  Good luck, Twirly!

On, on!

Saturday 24 November 2012

Lost and Found. And Lost.

Well, who would have expected such a muddle?  To start from Esposade metro station would be easy, obviously, and make for a nice, prompt start and finish.  Unfortunately, that did not take into account hash pathfinding qualities.  Wrong path-finding, that is.  By the time the car containing Mega Tongue, Judge Red, Droopy and me completed our little tour of the Maia hinterland to reach the station, the hares and respective other halves were already on the phone to Master Baker who had contrived to end up somewhere around the docks, having wisely left the club without any idea of where to go.  Just then I got a call from the absent Hard Drive to inform me that Snorter was lost somewhere and about to give up.  His voice was full of urgent dread, as though Snorter was about to give up life amid the tangle of featureless motorways between Porto and Maia, but it turned out he meant just the hash.  Mind you, without a hash, what kind of life would it be...?

All this delay served to make Mrs Slocombe, when he turned up, appear not to be late.  Clearly shaken by this, he declared that he'd forgotten something.  His dog.  He was only five minutes away, he reliably informed us, and off he went again.  Five minutes, my arse.  This is Mrs Slocombe we are talking about.  Whilst he was away, Snorter finally arrived, then, half an hour later, Mrs Slocombe returned, complete with furry friend, at exactly the same time as Master Baker with the search and rescue team that had been sent out for him.

Right, once all present and correct there was a hash to be run.  Having stood around waiting for more than an hour there was a certain stiffness to be shaken out but the route quickly did the trick.  At least we had finished waiting around for lost hashers to find us.  It was a short run, but found some very nice spots, especially the little park area beside the river Leca at which we stopped for a pit stop.  We got back to Esposade safe and sound in just over an hour, chilled for a while, then proceeded with the down-downs for the hares, Gender Bender and Ladyboy.  There were no birthdays or namings that I was aware of, so it was over to the R.A. for his bit.  R.A.... Um, where is Droopy? someone enquired.  Good question.  It appeared that he had not made it back, but no-one had noticed.  Searchers spread out in various directions.  Snorter drove towards one of the villages, whilst Pimp my Dongle and I checked a few routes without success before heading back to the group.  When we got there after ten minutes or so Droopy had been located, but now we had lost Snorter again.  Of course, this rambling tale had a happy ending and we were all reunited eventually, drinking lager out of piss pots in a cold car park like normal people. 

Thursday 8 November 2012

Somewhere, in a valley far, far from here...

After a three week gap we were at it again last Sunday, with the relatively lengthy drive to Amarante for this outing courtesy of Master Baker and Bow Job, the latter a hare for the first time.  We parked beside the river on the opposite bank from the historic centre and began by making our way along a wooded path just above the water.  It was all terribly picturesque, so naturally we turned away and headed uphill, beneath the concrete bridge carrying the main road tino one end of town and onto the road.  As soon as we began to rise, it became evident that Mrs Slocombe was going to live up to his name in fine style, making us all yearn for the speed of a Walkie-Talkie to hurry things up at the back.  On the end of his lead, Pussy was bored, with the only relief when they eventually crested a hill.  It was a bit like watching a victorian era roller coaster creeping and creaking on cogs to the top of a peak before tumbling down the other side, only to grind to a near halt as it levels into the next incline.

Vinay Prabdhu was back with us after a two year spell in America, where, he revealed, he got into swinging - the conditions over there just leant themselves to it, apparently, and he managed to swing both ways.  How disappointed we all were to discover he was talking about cricket.  After all that, it was remarkable that he managed to get away with the name Dr Know-All at the end.

Also back for a rare visit was Rubber Man, who demonstrated, first his underwear, then some old-fashioned hash rule-breaking with short cuts, ignoring regroups and sundry other crimes for which he was duly punished later on.  By contrast, virgin George, Gnasher's boyfriend over for a visit, showed his military discipline by sticking perfectly yet ludicrously to the snaking ornamental paving on the final run-in.  As he could simply have run in a straight line, he appeared as though he had played one of those drinking games that leaves you looking like a wasp fished out of a pint of beer.

It was beautiful in the centre of town, the autumnal colours reflected exquisitely alongside the old bridge and buildings so photogenically that even a rabble of hashers anticipating alcohol could hardly fail to be impressed, and a wonderful little old watermill, still with working wheel, was a charming little detour, but not for the curmudgeonly Master Baker who had decreed it unworthy of his interest and merely waited for our return with Mrs Slocombe and the not-as-knackered-as-usual Pussy.

After Vinay was named, various people were punished and Spanker celebrated her 240th run, the rain hurried us into the cover of the cars before a pleasant bash in an old tasca overlooking the river, on which a fisherman appeared slowly to be contemplating drifting to his death on the rocks.  Unfortunately for him, the rapids of Amarante are not quite Niagara-esqe so he eventually drifted back, looking even glummer.  Happy days. 

Saturday 27 October 2012

Droopy Draws a Crowd

Well, only a liitle one.  That's the crowd, not Droopy, who was a hare for the first time this decade as he and I put together this run from Santa Maria da Feira.

We knew everyone would be expecting to get to the castle, so we stopped all the speculation by making it the start and finish.  At the start, though, there was little thought of stopping for a spot of sightseeing as the weather was decidedly inclement - cold and very wet, excatly what you don't want at the beginning of a hash.  Another thing you don't want at the beginning of a hash is a long, steep climb.  Shame, that. 

Anyway, soon after the long, steep climb at the beginning of the hash, in the cold, driving rain that had washed away many of the chalk signs, everyone thoroughly enjoying the experience, we headed into woodland.  From that point, I think nobody really knew where we were; as hares, we had headed in a completely different direction when setting than we had intended, but happily the area into which we stumbled was pleasingly rural, so the hash mixed woodland, village and country road quite nicely pretty much all the way back to the cars.  There was the odd little feature of interest, the old, ruined mill complete with antique lorry in the garage being my favourite.

By the time we reached the pit stop the rain had stopped, which seemed to perk people up a bit - I've rarely seen biscuits disappear as rapidly other than from the OBS staff room table, and a mere twelve adults made pretty short work of port bought in the expectation of several more hashers (congratulations due to Mark 'Oh, all right then, give me another glass' Hooley and Droopy for their herioc efforts in this regard). 

Energy might have been restored, but homing devices seemed not to have been as we continued, with front runners repeatedly going the wrong way at checkpoints or ignoring bright, white strings dangling enticingly before their eyes.  Near home, Master Baker had got away from the rest and was way ahead.  He'll find his way back, I thought, until we caught up with him standing like a lost boy at what he assumed to be a checkpoint.  Admittedly, the chalked on-on sign had almost disappeared in the rain, but given that its remnants remained, on the large arrow beneath the word Castelo on a road sign pointing down Rua do Castelo, one thought he might have been able to work it out.

He still got home first, but not before a comic attempt by Mr Hooley at a sprint finish that began about a hundred and fifty yards from the cars and ended about a hundred and twenty yards from the cars as M B, Spanker and I jogged past him.

The sky began to clear as we completed the down-downs, welcoming in the process dubutants Pi Moreira and her daughter, Carmo - who had coped really well considering the conditions and terrain and was about to go into, I understand, a Rip Van Winkle-like sleep (but only after a promised visit to MacDonald's).  Francois Laclomblez had returned to the fold and was named Judge Red before a select group of us repaired to Miramar for a great value bash with roast chicken and fat, juicy panados.  By that time, the sun was out and the sky clear.  As Mrs Slocombe would no doubt say, better late than never.

On, on.

Saturday 6 October 2012

Suspicious minds and ancient finds

What do you get when you mix a Squirrel with a Spanker?  Invariably a fine hash, but inevitably a certain amount of chaos, often with a sprinkling of uncertainty about the direction.  Route location is made particularly tricky when the local yokals have removed all signs from the vicinity, but that pales beside being hauled into the local police station whilst setting the thing, accused of being Romanians planning burglaries.  Well, it could have been worse:  a few years ago and they probably would have accused you of being witches and dragged you to a hastily erected pyre in the village square.

With all the excitement of the setting, it was rather disappointing to arrive in the said square - a very pretty spot watched over by an old stone church, with a couple of big quintas and a trickling stream bordering - to find that the promised local bobbies were nowhere to be seen.  Neither was there a trace of any horny-handed sons of the soil bearing angry pitchforks and angrier wives/sisters, ready to hound us all out of town.

Oh well, just a hash then.  Off we trotted, up a hill into the residential heart of the village.  The first sign, a checkpoint, was in place, followed by an on-on.  Clearly it was going to be another one of those occasions on which the hares worry unnecessarily about loss of signs.  Or perhaps not.  Much to the hares' frustration we barely encountered another sign for the next twenty or thirty minutes.  It can mean that the running becomes a bit fragmented as the momentum of a checker's call and the pack's response is lost, but on the other hand, checkers could easily add length by trying the wrong route  when there are no signs anyway, thereby giving themselves extended runs to catch up again.  The effect was enhanced by Spanker's throat deciding to go on strike, reducing her voice to a noise akin to sandpaper over a wet towel and her on-on calls to whispers in the ether.

It was a nice area, especially out of the built-up part of the village, and the highlight was, of course, the archeological site, a wonderful excavated hill-town dating from the first three centuries a.d.  The acropolis was the ideal place for a pit stop, so that was what we did, stiffening our legs in traditional style before trying to get them working again, warm sunshine melting the chocolate on the biscuits provided to soak up the fizz.

The pack had been rather stretched at times on the way up and that continued as we headed for home, with, effectively, two groups emerging.  Two became three, four - I'm not quite sure how many - when we re-entered the village whose absense of markings made it a D-I-Y finish.  Watching hashers arrive home at the same time but from three different directions was rather amusing, but Chalky, here with Hooker (and her camera) for a visit, was nowhere to be seen, having at one stage been with the front group.  It turned out that he had been for a pee in the woods only to emerge and find himself left behind, and his homing device in sleep mode.  Eventually, however, he found us and the World was in order once more.  No burglaries, no Romanians, and Macieras all round at the end of the meal.

I have consulted my Romanian dictionary - or dictionar (yes, I have got one) - to sign off.  A prize to the first person I hear call this way and get a response in a hash.

Haide, haide!


Sunday 30 September 2012

In Pursuit of the Hooley Male

We set off for Furadouro in torrential rain, a proper Porto monsoon, which continued until we had parked and remained in the cars for a minute or so, decidedly reluctant to venture out.  Once it stopped, though, it remained clear until we were in the restaurant, most conveniently.
This was, of course, a pursuit hash, hared by Master Baker and Mark Hooley.  They set off five minnutes before us and headed through the town.  It was easy to follow them at first, but we contrived to miss the fourth or fifth checkpoint and delayed ourselves for a good five minutes, thereby pretty well ensuring that they would not be caught. 

There was a good deal of running to be done as we wound round the town and its sandy wooded margins and we were quite a stretched line of hashers in the second half.  As we headed into the woods, Snorter was the surprising back marker.  He loped along, occasionally coming into view if you were hanging back to look for him (which, to be fair, nobody was, except me; Big Stick's claim that he was at the back simply in order to wait for Snorter should be taken with a healthy dose of salt).  Once in sight, he would raise an arm and give a limp wave in the manner of a legionairre in the desert saying go on without me, I'll just slow you down.  So we did. 

Somehow, though, he caught us up, probably helped by the inevitable slowness of some of the checking - a pursuit hash can be like that unless someone gets on a lucky roll or really snifs out the direction.  That did eventually happen, with Pimp My Dongle finding the route so successfully that most of the hashers did not experience another checkpoint for the final half hour or so.  Perhaps that explains why two thirds chose to shortcut the ending.  No, I think that it was more in line with Snorter's sentiment beside a sign taking us away from home near the end:  F*** that, I'm going this way.

At down downs, Miguel Mendes was named Cock Plucker, in reference to a hobby he is known to have, then it was off to the bash at a seafront cafe.  It was a good hash, quite demanding, especially on the sand of the forest, but we have yet to catch a hare on a pusuit hash.

On, on.

Saturday 15 September 2012

Up hill and down dale. And up hill again.

What a picturesque hash, full of magnificent views.  That is, of course, euphamistic for 'we've just climbed another bloody hill, so we might as well have a look around before we descend again.'

No, really, this one did afford some fine vistas from either side of the river, beginning with one of the best, from Gaia's monastery high above Ponte Dom Luis.  Heading up the slope towards it there were two distinct groups:  those, like Spanker and I, running with resignation to a spot from which we knew there was only one way down, and those, surprisingly in the majority, blissfully unaware that all their effort was just for a steep on-back, particularly as the hares ruthlessly chased everyone back down quickly, allowing a mere glimpse of the view for those who were quick enough up.

After a couple of twists and turns we crossed the top of the bridge, passing a group who happened to be hashers elsewhere, at least one of them known to Extremely Grimm, visiting us for the second time from Madrid H3.  The tourists were out in force, especially around the cathedral when we arrived at a checkpoint there to provide some local colour probably not mentioned in their guide books.  We made our way down through the tumbling alleys below the bridge.  Master Baker at the front thought he had seen a very large checkpoint sign on the ground at the end of one stretch, but no.  It was one of a pair of swastikas painted on the flagstones.  Hmm, nice.  I'd like to think they were there for local buddhists, but ... never mind, move on.

Having come over the top of the bridge it was obvious that we would return via the lower level, so when we got to the junction at its end there was really only one way to check if you were first there.  And of course the route was along the river.  By the time I managed to catch everyone up they were ascending the slope of doom, up which we gone a few times before, bringing us to the car park beneath the new road bridge.  When I have set hashes up there, I have always put a checkpoint half way, but then I'm just too nice, I suppose, unlike Deep Throat and Miguel who heartlessly made us take it in one go.

When we got back over to Gaia we were swiftly taken down to the river front again, just to make sure we could have another climb, but we were compensated by a beer at a cafe on the cais.  It was brief relief (now there's a hash name for the future!), as the next stage was up the hill past Taylor's and The Yeatman, underneath the railway line to the top.  To be fair, there was remarkably little moaning, even with Snorter and Big Stick there, although that might have been because they just couldn't speak.

We reached home in about an hour and eight minutes (running time), the shortness of the time surprising several, including Big Stick, who felt he had been out for twice that time.  So, short but strenuous enough to push people was the verdict, a good run.  An equally good bash followed back down at the Cais de Gaia.

We have since had a note from Extremely Grimm complementing the hares (incidently, this was Miguel's fourth hash, three of which he has hared - something for possible consideration when he comes to be named, hopefully soon) and expressing his enjoyment of PH3 once again.  Most importantly, he has also sampled Lisbon H3 and is in no doubt about which of us is the better hash!

On, on to two in a row on the 22nd and 29th, the second of which will see a visit from Chalky and Hooker.       

Thursday 30 August 2012

Back again

So, after a lengthy summer break, I am back.  It seems ages since a good crowd of us made our way to Guimaraes to bid farewell to seven leavers.  It was a memorable run around the city and its margins and I think we added nicely to the sights on view for the considerable numbers of tourists out on a sunny Sunday. 

Nothing, however, stands still in hashing (except, of course, for Mrs Slocombe at a checkpoint) and so here we are again, welcoming newcomers and pounding the streets and tracks as though we had never stopped.  Last night we assembled at a previous starting point, at the back of Campanha station.  Confusingly, Mrs Slocombe arrived on time, whilst Hard Drive was thirty five minutes late, but this role reversal did not continue and normality was soon restored, the former resolutely avioding checking and the latter swiftly into Ancient Mariner mode, with GTA (Greg) his first victim.

Handily, everyone ran pretty fluently, with plentiful checkpoints enabling it all to keep together, so we made our way round in good time.  A good deal of it was on well-trodden ground, but there always seems to be, even in a city as relatively small as Porto, somewhere new to discover and so it was with this one.  It was designed to give a reasonable view of real Porto for the newcomers, so we headed into the centre, crossing Santa Catarina twice, passing a sign from a year ago en route, gave the shoppers something to stare at  gaze at admiringly, and got as far as Aliados before effectively turning back. 

Special mention must go to Francois for getting lost.  He found that, in trying to find us again, people were able to remember seeing us pass by.  Funny, that.  He also was named, after lengthy deliberations that seemed all to be focused on the idea of pimp, Pimp my Dongle.  Titchy Percy had a down-down to mark being eighty (his knee, meanwhile, is a hundred and sixty) and then we repaired across town for the bash at the end of which we marked Bunbasher's actual birthday.

So, an hour and a quarter (ha, those who doubted my ability to keep the length down, ha and ha, I say!) of jogging about alarming the good people of Porto, beer in piss-pots and tuneless singing.  Hashing is back; and a jolly good job.

On, on.  

Thursday 5 July 2012

Just June

Well, June has been and gone with three hashes, each memorable in quite a different way.  It began with the double header weekend up in Povoa do Lanhoso, organised by Big Stick and Pretty Vacant.  Although there were quite a few booked for Friday, numbers limbering to start the evening's hash in the central market place were a disappointingly low eleven following a string of late pull-outs (I know we live in a catholic country, but it's a bad habit to get into).  Still, it was their loss as this was a very nicely constructed run around and about the old town, in pleasant evening sunshine.  Ineveitably, we ended climbing up to the old castle where we stopped for a beer and crisps at a cafe with a big open-air tv showing the European Championship match between Russia and the Czech Republic and fine views across the valley.  The bags of crisps had face paints with them and Master Baker wasted no time in making himself up like a lady of the night.  A very disturbing night.  On the way back Mrs Slocombe's pussy was attacked by two ludicrously uncontrolled boxers and, although it left a nasty taste for a while, there was no serious damage done.  At down-downs, Eva was named Burning Bush then we repaired to a nearby tasca for a superb bash, at which we were joined by some of the non-runners, shame of place going to Hot Pants for his no-show.

The next day was free, with the intention that the hotel's sports facilities could be used for a variety of competitions.  Unfortunately, by the early afternoon grey sky and cool temperatures had ceded to sheets of rain, curtailing the tennis that had been taking place.  This seemed to suit the sporting aspirations of some hashers, however, who had installed themselves around the two pool tables, Francois emerging as the champion after some knife-edge encounters (that's a nice way of saying that potting was not always incessssant).  By the evening we delayed going through to dinner for the Portugal v Germany match, a turgid affair that ended with a just but uninspiring one-nil win for Germany.  Dinner enlivened things, with a quiz as ever demonstrating the extent of hashers' general knowledge (hmm), and by the time we returned to the bar, with the wine still flowing, things had loosened up nicely.  Granny Gobbler and Master Baker in particular became merrily abusive to all who came their way, perched as they were like a noisy Scilla and Charybdis at the point of exit for anyone who wished to call it an early night.

The next morning entailed a drive around the valley to the start point of a fairly long (two-twenty), highly picturesque (when the low cloud allowed) and often scrambly hash.  The hotel's heavy breakfast weighed upon me at the start, but the rural charm soon allayed any rumblings from within.  Goats abounded, along with wild horses and long-horned cattle, on one of which I nearly impaled myself after running up a grassy ridge at the top of which it sat unseen.  There was a long climb up to a stone cross on top of a rocky peak, with views occasionally available through the swiftly moving cloud, then we returned to take a pit stop, before creaking onward.  At down downs, we renamed Hot Pants Hoot Pants following one of Hard Drive's misspellings, then made the mistake of going back to the hotel for a 'ten minute' shower and change.  Forty-five minutes later we headed off, minus a number of people who had not yet emerged, for the bash at a restaurant with staff grumpy at our late arrival and lower than predicted numbers.  Oh well, we had fun, then headed to PV and BS's place for a few relaxed drinks before the drive home.  All in all, it was a fine weekend.

Three weeks later, after postponing due to Sao Joao absences, Hard Drive and Granny Gobbler led a hash around old Porto.  I missed this one due to cricket, for which I received quite some abuse from Hard Drive, who, reports told me, was the main feature of this one (and that's saying something given that it was set around the romantic routes and featured a climb up the Torre de Clerigos).  I believe the mental scars are beginning to heal, but I encountered a number of people still shaky on Sunday and Monday. 

Anyway, coming up is the farewell to quite a few of our regulars, with Mrs Slocombe and Bunbasher in Guimaraes.  It will be sad to see them leave us, but hopefully my next entry (which could be a while off due to Spanker and my impending holiday) will report a worthy send off.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Advertising Feature

PH3 Surgical Services

Blood-letting, facial re-alignment and much more!

PH3 Surgical Services has a long reputation for providing traditional medical solutions.  Consider our famous hangover remedy using a special medicinal compound, lager, introduced to the body rapidly through medical equipment used in conventional medicine for removing fluids from the body.  Then there is our famed annual psychological therapy for the shy and retiring, known as the Jingle Bells Hash.

All our products are prepared with scientific precision and all treatment is carefully monitored by a big group of hashers in baggy old clothes.  A typical session may be as follows:  familiar to users of medical facilities in Portugal and the UK, surgery opens when there is a large number of people waiting about impatiently, stamping feet and coughing intemperately.  The doctors, barely qualified fresh and keen, on this occasion Granny Gobbler and Deep Throat (whose specialities may be suggested by their names) along with Deep Throat's practice partner, Dr Miguel, take charge, issuing directions to the patients.

First up is treatment for those suffering from Stiff Limb Syndrome or Chronic Lethargy, two conditions prevalent among our clients.  Generally, we eschew new-fangled, faddy ideas such as warming-up, stretching and the like, going instead for a form of shock-therapy.  On this occasion, having given the sufferers time to wander around aimlessly (a cunning piece of Psychology designed to give them the notion that they know what they are doing, known as the first checkpoint), Dr Miguel called the way and they had to get their bodies moving and blood pumping over a series of drawn-out runs up hill and down dale.  There were some patients on this occasion reluctant to take this particular treatment, but for most the benefits were soon evident in red faces and streams of toxin-releasing perspiration.

Next on the healing programme is the famed blood-letting treatment, honed over many years and pioneered by former head surgeon, Chalky.  Based on mediaeval know-how, this concerns removal of disease, infection, and other nasty stuff through the release of excess blood, and can be done in a variety of ways.  Lacking a ready supply of leeches, this week's trio of medics used the tried and tested bramble-and-thorn method and it was not long before several of the patients had healthy streams of blood on their shins - another successful treatment for PH3.

Alcohol Dependancy was addressed in innovative fashion when the assembled patients, most of whom clearly suffered from this particular condition, having been hauled from Azurara to Vila do Conde, then to the beach and showing visible signs of withdrawl sweats, were brought to the door of a cafe that, they were told, would serve them with beer.  However, the door was firmly shut, forcing the crowd to confront their issue in the only way possible - running away.  It might be argued that the running simply served to get them all the more quickly to an alternative source of beer, but it kept them off the stuff for at least twenty minutes.

After the initial exertions, which took about an hour and three quarters, the relaxation therapy took place, with picnic food and substantial quantities of Vinho Verde consumed at the home of two of our worst sufferers, Titchy Percy and Gender Bender (their afflictions speak for themselves, poor things).  Considerable sun was provided for those who had signed up for the Make My Skin Red treatment, then to complement the International Picnic there was a therapeutic International Dispute over the rules/merits of Rounders and Baseball. 

At PH3 Surgical Services we encourage patients to take the initiative in their treatment and so it was for one of our long-termers, Snorter, who was to be the subject of our latest medical venture:  facial reconstruction.

Facial Reconstruction the PH3 way!  No expensive surgery needed.  No scalpels, no chloroform, only a few little scars.

As Snorter himself says, "It was all so easy.  All I had to do was stand behind someone who had drunk lots of wine and was swinging a eucalyptus branch at a small ball, then wait for her to miss the ball and throw the branch at my face.  Some years ago I sustained a hockey injury that altered my previous, handsomely symmetrical features.  Now I have a straight nose again, and it's all thanks to PH3 Surgical Services.  Thanks, PH3! 

So, for all your medical needs, physical and mental, PH3 is the choice for you.  Special Surgery opens next weekend, from Friday to Sunday in Povoa do Lanhoso.

On, on. 

Friday 4 May 2012

What an April shower!

Following Easter we have had a couple of interesting hashes, and somehow, given the weather we've been 'enjoying', the only showers have been in trainers and t-shirts.

We began with what was to be Snorter and Walkie-Talkie's run but, due to the former's injury, became Squirrel and Walkie-Talkie's, with Snorter as Hash Director, driving between checkpoints in the expectation that front-runners might need a bit of direction.  As it happened, the trail was well set and required little intervention but it did add the challenge of trying to beat him to his next rendezvous without knowing where that might be.  It was probably just as well that Mrs Slocombe missed this one, otherwise his nose might have been put out of joint by someone else taking his cherished role of standing around at checkpoints doing nothing.

It is hard to say where we were, exactly, other than it is called Fiaes, after a long and winding journey to the start, but it was a pleasant area, featuring a cava pit stop in a wooded glade, some sloppy splashing through a marshy loop that W-T gallantly left Squirrel to lead and a delightful run home through an area that seemed to have been turned into a reserve or park - strange, given the location, but very nice.  This was possibly the first time all the hashers made it back before the hares; indeed, W-T only just made it in time for the down-downs.

Two weeks later we headed south again  but this time stayed near the coast, starting from a patch of waste ground on the edge of Espinho.  A bigger turn-out for this one included little Diniz, on his second hash, and, whilst Mrs Slocombe had to improvise a bit to get him round, the many twists and turns inevitably creating too great a gap, he still managed to overtake W-T at one point.  However, this is the new, slimmed-down, sometimes-running, W-T, so he wasn't to be beaten by a mere five year old.  Everyone else, obviously, but not a five year old.

Enough digs at W-T - there must be someone else.  How about Bunbasher, who, when the hares (Horny and Ladyboy) were looking for a place to pit stop, strangely managed to locate a spot in the woods with a carpet already laid for a purpose I for one did not relish contemplating?  Local knowledge is everything, isn't it? 

This hash, though, will be best remembered for its superb bash, at a little place on the seafront that served up loads of excellent tapas followed by Thai chicken curry all accompanied by some very good wine for the price.  We were there long enough to make the most of it, too.

So, on we go, but before I sign off, congratulations to Pussy Galore and Whippit-out, who - just two hours ago as I write - produced the latest future hasher, a seven pound baby girl.

On, on.

Saturday 17 March 2012

Up River and Uphill

    So, we've had two hashes since my last post, firstly Pink Extender and Deep Throat's excursion up-river to the Foz da Sousa area and secondly Master Baker and Inspect-my Gadget's inland from Modivas.
    First things first: Deep Throat's first as a hare saw us parked in a lay-by off the main riverside road, ten of the eighteen women, including two virgins - Eva and Carla. After continuing along the main road from the start, we were soon into the village lanes and woodland nearby. It was nicely constucted, with a good variety of terrain, with plenty of checkpoints to allow back-markers to catch up. Sadly, Walkie-Talkie had found an ally in Alan Stallard, so largely declined to take these opportunities, opting rather for the gentle stroll on a pleasant winter morning approach. This was of liitle consequence to the rest of us until we reached the pit stop, at which we had biscuits and port [in proof-reading, I noticed that I had written biscuits and pot, which, whilst it might have given us a rather more relaxed approach but may not have done much for our running ability!], but no cups as they were with Pink Extender, who was patiently chivvying along our two back-markers somewhere in another time-zone. Who needs cups, Snorter pointed out, lifting a bottle to his lips, but we were saved his spittle by the last-gasp arrival of PE who had left the other two to find their own way.
     From there, logistics of the locality had forced the run-in to begin, but it was a good, three-kilometre or so stretch to get the legs going and the from runners got home in about an hour and a quarter. A car had been left about half a kilometre along the road and anyone not fancying the run-in could make use of it. Alan and W-T duly did, but were so slow reaching it that they still finished after all the others, who ran back - a quite spectacular display of sloth!
     Two weeks' later we reconvened in Modivas for Inspect-my-Gadget and Master Baker to conduct us along a long and winding route inland to a car park beside a kayak factory somewhere in the middle of nowhere (or so it seemed to me - I still have no idea where we were). Deep Throat was acting as Beer Monitor for the first time; we were expecting great things, but we got late things (and mini things, which at least later allowed Horny to look like she can complete a down-down on the same day that she begins it). As a result we were a little behind schedule when we began, but the pace was pretty good so we were soon making up time.
     Of course, few make up time more dramatically than Deep Throat and soon she was leaping and bounding through the undergrowth; unfortunately, so desirous was she to make up time she also developed a tendency to cut corners equally dramatically, for which she was later to pay the price.
     The hash was a good run, with frequent early checkpoints through woodland opening out into some more lengthy runs, often uphill (how did we seem to spend so much time going upwards yet so little coming down? The hares appeared to have tampered with the laws of Physics, but official hash physicist, Gender Bender, lacked the puff to comment). As I've said, it all kept moving quite nicely, although it should be mentioned that at one point I found myself walking up a slope chatting to Hot Pants as he ran at my side (I know, I was walking, I admit it, and I'm ashamed, but it's good to get it out).
        By the time we reached the pit stop at a village cafe, after about an hour and forty-five minutes, we were wondering what time exactly we'd get back - we had to be at least twenty minutes away. Oh well, why worry, let's have a beer, and laugh as the local cheery fat bloke points out that Mrs Slocombe has a fat pussy - okay, perhaps not exactly that, but it was what he meant. Then it was time to head off again and we stirred our stiff legs for the trek. Then we were back. Three minutes later. Master Baker hadn't even had time to finish belching before he was trying to race me home. It is about time he learnt that a hash is not a race. Unless I win.
       Down-downs saw Deep Throat duly punished for her various transgressions and Jennifer named Texicle before we repaired to Mindelo for the bash. We'd been to the restaurant before and I'd love to go back, if only for the comedy value of listening to Gadget's attempts to pronounce Portuguese dishes.
       On, on!

Saturday 18 February 2012

Double Header beside the Minho

So, now we are four hundred - a most venerable age - and how well we marked the occasion.

On the third of February, an advance party proceded to Siexas, just outside Caminha. We were joined by überhasher, Haz, from Stutgart and his friend, Pink Panther, from Brussels, over simply to try the PH3 experience for the weekend. The evening featured a trip into Caminha for dinner at a lovely little tasca; as part of the hares careful plans, we had intended to get taxis there and back, which would clearly be no problem on a Friday night. Oh. There were no taxis. People scoffed at the very notion. Fortunately, however, having scoffed they offered us lifts, so we did manage to get in and out of Caminha. Hard Drive splendidly made an arse of himself by taking a tumble in the restaurant right underneath the warning sign with the image of a figure taking exactly the same tumble. Ha, ha, what a plonker, I thought - there's a definite down-down tomorrow.

Tomorrow came and the four hares headed off to set the trails. For Spanker and I it became an alarmingly lengthy process, taking three and a half hours for something we had already thorougly planned. By the time we got back to the start it was almost time to set off again, but fortunately the twenty-seven hashers assembling for 399 included Mrs Slocombe who was, almost inevitably, half an hour late, having headed to Ponte de Lima and then treated himself to a driving tour of Caminha before choosing to join us, which gave us a little more breathing space.

Forgive me, but even if I do say so myself, it was a rather nice hash - a good run in a lovely area. It was a stern beginning, mind, making its way up and up through the back lanes and woodland of the south-eastern edge of Caminha. Unsurprisingly, the views grew increasingly spectacular and the hash grew increasingly stretched, but a sneaky loop allowed everyone to catch up shortly before the pit stop (port and chocolates at a miradouro in the gentle afternoon sun). We got there after about forty-five minutes and it felt as thought we might stay there another forty-five, but eventually we managed to prise the group away for the long homeward stretch. An extended downhill run through a woodland path was the start before we hit some woods and the group began to come unstuck, most breaking away from the hares. They were fine for quite a while, before missing a checkpoint and finding the wrong signs. I flounced; everyone eventually re-assembled; the back-markers to a short cut with Spanker; and all was right with the World once more. After rattling through more woodland, beside the harbour and up through the old town we reached the central square just as the day's folk festival, complete with RTP cameras, was getting into full swing. I thought we added a certain something special to the occasion before scuttling off home, finishing after an hour and fifty-five minutes running time.

We had a lively but cold circle session, the most notable feature of which was Bunbasher's 260th birthday, then repaired to the residencial to recover before dinner. Dinner was at a restaurant around the corner and we began with a quiz, won by Inaction Man and Brunei Babe at a canter, whilst the blog-based competition centred around my last entry and was won by Gender Bender and Ladyboy. It was all very convivial, and continued with several bottles of brandy, one of which - the one I had access to - was clearly bad as it caused me temporarily to lose control of my balancing faculties at something o´clock in the morning and headbutt the concrete floor. Still, there weren't many people left to notice, so that would be all right. Mind, there was rather a lot of blood. Oh well.

The next morning one or two especially observant people might have noticed a slight mark on my forehead, but being hashers of course nothing would be said and nobody would laugh. It was grey and became rainy in due course but this did not dampen spirits as a slightly different twenty-seven set off from the residencial for hash 400. We made our way to the riverside before climbing up and away behind Seixas, with some nice runs to get our stiff legs warm again. Again, we looked likely to be stretched, but on the whole managed to keep together pretty well. 'This is another really good trail,' Pink Panther said to me about half way through, and so it was, weaving its way round quiet streets and woodland tracks for about an hour and a half. The pit-stop was buck's fizz in the drizzle, some hashers taking shelter beneath a log-stacked lorry much to Gender Bender's concern - it must have been some obscure law of physics about about the relationship between hashers and disaster that bothered her.

At the end we started down-downs in the rain before someone suggested moving to the shelter of ... a trellis of flowers. Hmm. Not the best idea of the weekend, but Spanker rescued the day by getting the landlady to let us into the games room, a nice setting for some more prizes (Little Voice, Tigger and Snorter) and John Thorpe's naming as Touch-my-Tackle. On we then went to the bash in Caminha before the drive home and subsequent nursing of sore heads and limbs for a couple of days.

Of course, there were t-shirts to mark the occasion and if you have not yet got one don't forget to buy one at the next hash.

On, on.

Thursday 26 January 2012

Modivas merriment

On another fine Sunday morning we assembled at Modivas Sul metro for the traditional wait for Mrs Slocombe. With five virgins (although, I'd question whether any of them actually looked like a virgin) present at least it gave some time for explanations. Plenty of time. Anyway, with such holiday weather few minded standing around for a bit and eventually we were off, into the nearby woods and tracks.

Obviously, I don't have to justify my love of hashing, but when a whole bunch of newbies turn up I want them to fall for it too, so in many ways this was an ideal one with which to make one's bow. Set in the flat, pleasant, semi-rural environs of Modivas it was easy to get going so everyone was quickly into the groove, and virgins were soon to be seen checking, leading and calling from afar. Jade, as a PE teacher, one would expect to be somewhere near the front, and, although I am sure we will see her go faster she showed the sort of material Girl Power was made of - I feel a name coming, Sporty Spice. Fellow virgin, Alan, not a PE teacher, with an admirable sense of symmetry, ably ensured that there was usually a virgin at the back as well.

As mentioned in my blog about the Jingle Bells, we must present quite a sight at times and that was apparant on this one, too. I loved the bemusement in the centre of Modivas as one beautiful stranger after another, plus Droopy, sauntered past sweating and swearing. Nobody says a thing; they either stare intensely or look away as though offended by your unathletic appearance; clearly you are borderline crazy for you have got up on a Sunday morning, driven to the back of beyond, got out of your car and chosen to run through the muddiest, smelliest places available locally.

Well, anyway, it was a very smooth hash, without hiccoughs, which is more than can be said for the roadside shrine we passed near the outlet mall - smashed to bits, it was, madonna and child one side, candles the other, an unholy mess, (it looked like a prayer meeting had turned ugly) that for the supersticious could have boded ill (I could tell Master Baker was quaking, unless that was the result of his Saturday night curry). No, our lucky star was out and everyone made it back unscathed so that we could christen Nancy 'Bow Job' and Asha 'Deep Throat', paying homage to their personal talents, one of which was ably demonstrated to us all before their down-down. Shrotly afterwards, Inspect My Gadget caused gasps of horror and consternation as he threw beer over little Harry Trotter; his apologies to the dog appeared to involve sucking the Super Bock back off his muzzle.

After a long wait, surprisingly not for Mrs Slocombe this time, but for the restaurant which had a liberal approach to the concept of booking, we managed to sit down for a marvellous bash, by which time I think it's fair to say we were well-watered. Hopefully each of the virgins was able to live to tell the tale and will be back again.

Roll on the momentous 400th weekend. Order your t-shirt now!

On, on.

Saturday 14 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, hashers.

Okay, so I'm a little late in greeting you thus but at least we're still in January. So, we've had the Jingle Bells and the two Tonys' New Year cobweb-blower since I last wrote and they've provided plenty of moments to remember.

Let's start by going back to that grey day in December when Matosinhos was brightened by a record number of hashers (thirty-nine) arrayed in a variety of costumes and poised with keen athletic intent near the sea front. To paraphrase Linford Christie slightly, the pack set off on the G of BANG, trundling off round the roads leading to the bridge over the docks to Leca. In Droopy's absence, I looked for a replacement Religious Advisor and it was soon obvious that Snorter, dressed as a cardinal, had to be the one. As I (Scrooge) ran alongside him on Rua da Serpa Pinto, looking ahead at the masses of santas and elves, a pair of pirates chasing Peter Pan and Pocohontas (the Mutter-Allard clan), a Christmas tree in trainers (Master Baker), a wrapped present (Twirly), the least delicate looking pink fairy you could wish to see (Whip-it, presumably dressed by his daughter), and behind at the World's slowest motor racing driver (Walkie-Talkie), I could not help noticing the look of total indifference on the faces of some of the locals: nothing to be interested here, then, they appeared to be thinking - it's just another Sunday morning with costumed foreigners gallumphing round my town.

Similarly amusing were the looks that appeared on the faces of a pair of men out for a proper jog when half of us overtook them on the bridge. Emasculation was a word that sprung to mind as a pantomime Johnny Depp-alike (Horny) sprung past, cutlass gleaming in the faint morning light.

Among the thirty-nine it was good to have no less than five virgins, but especially to welcome back Hooker and Chalky, the latter for his first PH3 run in quite some time. Hopefully, they may be able to join us from time to time now they are back in Europe. There was ample time for catching up at the delightful pit stop, featuring mulled wine and a marvellous biscuit assortment all created by Spanker's fair hands in the pleasant environs of Quinta da Conciecao, that took some dragging away from.

Eventually, we did move again and headed for home via the back-ways of Matosinhos. Down-downs, as might be expected, were quite lengthy and drew a crowd of observers. Twirly was awarded best costume, then we repaired to a nearby restaurant for our attempt at recreating a British Xmas lunch in Portugal. There, Titchy Percy was nominated Hasher of the Year and Family Jewel's 'wine lecture' at Quinta de la Rosa was announced as the vote-winner for Hash Moment of the Year.

And so, suitably fed and watered, we said goodbye to 2011 ...

... only to emerge, like fattened butterflies from the cocoon of Christmas, in a cul-de-sac in Gulpilhares in 2012, ready to shake our thing for the Two Tonies.

As might be expected, it was an expertly constructed hash that managed to maintain a lot of off-road work in a fairly built-up area. Perhaps the phrase 'off-road work' is a little to purposeful-sounding for a hash, but, although not particularly quick, we all kept going steadily whatever the terrain. Okay, there were a few fallers, and Mrs Slocombe's Pussy had to get wet in order to avoid crossing a little cataract by means of a thin plank, but nevertheless ... it was all pretty steady and sensible, wasn't it?

Ah, but then there was Horny, who decided, even with the hares telling her it was completely unnecessary and not considering how some of the other hashers and animals would follow, to scale a ten-foot wire fence, then to return the same way, only for us all to get to the same point two minutes later via a nice path through the woods onto the fenced-off road. Still, she seemed to enjoy herself. What is it about Horny and fences or gates? Later, she tried something else with a fence to procure a short-cut home - I don't know what exactly, tunnelling, probably - but that also failed.

In between the two, Deviant had announced himself to the neighbourhood with a pee whose public nature could only have been outdone by a four-legged hasher - in fact, I'm sure little Harry Trotter's ears were drooped with embarassment - and Flasher had taken a tumble, so it was an auspicious day for that particular hash dynasty.

After a refreshing pit stop of cava and Bounty rip-off chocolate bars in a copse we headed for home, where we were treated to some barracking from a grumpy South African resident who complained that Gadget's parked car was dangerous for children ("So is shooting them in the streets" was Horny's feisty retort, soon followed by a v-sign (her fourth of the day!) flicked at the twattish driver of a car who made a show of accelerating past us. My, what a day she was having.).

All in all, it was a fine re-commencement. Now we look forward to Kitty Fiddler and Gender Bender's affair (no Droopy, con't get over-excited by my turn of phrase) and then the 400th weekend. If you haven't yet, get you booking for that in now.

On, on!