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.