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!