Sunday 27 January 2013

Wet and Wild

My, what delightful weather we've been having of late, and on the 20th of January the elements did their level best to dissuade us from hashing.  Approaching Povoa de Varzim, Deep Throat, hare with Cock Plucker, suggested to me that we might wish to call it off, and, when we arrived at the start, a car park beside the metro station in the town, a decidedly unenthusiastic Snorter wafted the same sentiment in the air.  Shocked by such notions, I jumped about a bit in my shorts and t-shirt in an attempt to demonstrate that the conditions were fine and thereby inspire everyone to show some energy.  It didn't seem to work; I merely received some strange looks and shudders whilst everyone tried to amass layers of clothing and squeeze tighter together beneath umbrellas.  Walkie Talkie skulked about saying, 'no, I'm being serious, I'm not doing it.  I'm not.'  Twirlie was edging the same way.

Eventually, however, their complaints studiously ignored, a full compliment of fourteen set off, Twirly marking her farewell appearance in an extraordinary running outfit of Burberry mac, carrier bags over trainers and umbrella raised aloft (which, not surprisingly, ended up a twisted distortion that would have looked in place on a bomb site).  Unsurprisingly, most chalk marks were long-gone, but there were plenty of strings to look for, if not necessarily to see if one forgot the height of the hares and missed the fact that many of them had been almost plastered by the wind and rain to the twigs or railings to which most were tied.

A reasonably rapid pace was maintained, nobody wanting to hang around for long and the hares often needing to call on-ons quite quickly.  We wound about the margins of the town, squelching through some fields and reaching the Parque da Cidade on the outskirt near the motorway.  Clearly designed by the same people as did Porto's equivalent (or possibly the same granite merchant), it is a pleasant green space, with a lake in the middle harbouring a variety of birds.  Naturally, all the hashers were keen to stand about birdwatching and admiring the vistas, so, having run two-thirds of the way round, Walkie Talkie kindly gave us a lengthy opportunity to do just that.  Shortly afterwards he opted to turn early for home;  he duly got lost, as we discovered by phone later whilst in the warmth of a town centre cafe with a beer.  Later, he was kindly to regale anyone in range (some of us, sadly, several times) with a story about how he had struggled to entice his penis out into the cold to take a pee on his journey back.

Roughly ten kilometres had been covered by the time we reached the cars (at the same time as Walkie Talkie) and by now everyone seemed quite happy to stand about drinking cold lager in the icy downpour.  Well, for a while, anyhow.  Enough time to celebrate Mrs Slocombe's ninetieth birthday, wish Twirly well as she moves to the Netherlands and recognise in customary fashion W T's greatness.  Then it was off to the restaurant for an excellent value bash featuring picanha and grilled squid.  By that time everything was all right again.  Except for Noel's little fella.

So, next we are off to sunny, sunny Spain.  After all this wind and rain, it'll be just what we need.  So, here we come Santiago de Compostela ... ah - the city that markets itself as looking best in the rain.  Oh, well.  On. on!

Friday 18 January 2013

New Year, New Year

Bow Job and Master Baker were the architects of our New Year cobweb-shaker this year, taking us down to Pacos de Brandao for this one.  The beginning took us swiftly into some dense woodlands from which it seemed for a while we would never emerge.  Most unlike Master Baker, it seemed the hares had been possessed by the spirit of Brunei Babe as we scrambled up and down wooded slopes, tearing our legs through twisted brambles, dodging the thwack of saplings and slap of wet leaves and occasionally breaking into a brief run.  It was too tricky to be easy, but it was a slow start which at least kept everyone in close proximity in this first outing since Christmas.

Eventually we emerged onto the road on which we were parked, prompting one or two rebellious rascals to suggest a quick turn to home but instead now we found ourselves with the more expected running stretches.  The route was a nice mixture of village and semi-rural patches with some lengthy on-ons that made one suffer if checking the wrong way.  It was as well constructed as you would expect and was run in remarkably well behaved fashion.  What is happening to hashers these days?  Where has the stupidity gone?  How can we have a hash with both Walkie Talkie and Mrs Slocombe yet no lunacy?  Deviant was impressive on his first one for a while and Family Jewel managed to last rather longer than he did on the Jingle Bells.  Gaynor was particularly noticeable for her far eastern hash t-shirt that would probably be enough to have you arrested in certain countries.  Evidently not Vietnam, though.

Down-downs were most notable for the naming of Mark Hooley, desperate for something edgy and out-there, badger shagger or big cock, or something.  So we named him Hairy Fairy.  That done, it was off to scoff, a nice boisterous bash in one of the village's few restaurants.   

Saturday 5 January 2013

Jingle Bells Jangled

So, it seems a while ago (there's a reason for that, I suppose), but we finished 2012's hashing in memorable style with a Jingle Bells run that saw the expected array of outlandish and festive costumes being hauled through wind and rain on a day that, under other circumstances, would have been deemed miserable.  There is nothing like a hash though to dispell the miserable and so, albeit with numbers slightly foreshortened on the day, thirty-seven becostumed loons set off in good spirits from a spot around the corner from the Club (well, thirty-six, actually, Mrs Slocombe being so late that he only drove up as we were at the second checkpoint - he later claimed that this constituted being on time).  After some meandering in the vicinity we turned to cross the Arrabida bridge, with driving wind and rain hitting us head-on, and nearly also the traffic, famously safe and reliable, of course, as it hurtled into Porto.  There was not a great deal of stopping to enjoy the view on this occasion. By this stage we had lost one hare (Mega Tongue), three children (hers), and two lazy buggers (Walkie Talkie and Family Jewels), but the remaining thirty-one pressed on.

Once across, amid mutterings about how a return would be effected, given the distances to the other bridges and back, we headed down, via the shopping areas of Arrabida and the hilly back roads, with patches of the remaining greenery (around this time you might have heard, from the lips of older hahsers - let's say Bunbasher, to pluck a name out, something along the lines of 'when I were but a hashing lad, all this were fields and ...' before you ran out of earshot), until we reached the riverside at Afurada.  A quick tour of the village gave the locals something to smile about before we stopped at the quayside to wait for the ferry to Foz.  Eschewing centuries of cultural grooming and proud Porto tradition, the ferryman turned out to be a man keen to keep to timetables so we had to watch him go moments before we arrived and to wait patiently for his return, but when it came it was with Mega Tongue, her children and, most importantly (sorry, but let's be realistic, here!), the pit stop - bubbly and Christmas cake - which was polished off with impressive efficiency on the journey across the river.

Back on the other side, with Mega Tongue's brood now back in our midst, it was a half hour twist and turn back to the start, taking in the ever-hashworthy 'Romantic Routes', and the scenic delights of an on-back at the base of the Arrabida Bridge which was basically an enormous drug users injecting and dumping ground - not a place in which to take a tumble.

After soggy down-downs we repaired to the Club, which enabled a shower and warmth ahead of the excellent bash, complete with quiz and various awards.  Best Costume went to Squirrel and Snorter (at last - all the years of hurt, all the outfits imposed upon her family, all the sewing machine hours had paid off for Squirrel - Greg, it's okay, you don't have to be the snowman again); Hash Moment of the Year for a while was a close run thing, Snorter's facial realignment garnering notable support, but eventually the clear winner was ... Squirrel and Spanker's brush with the law in the arse end of beyond back in the autumn; and finally, Hasher of the Year went two ways, to Spanker and Master Baker for their sterling efforts throughout the year.

Of course, all this was back on the 16th of December, and it has taken me that long to get around to writing about it, which means that tomorrow, as I write, we are back into it once more.  2013 is with us, the 425th weekend on the horizon.  Time, like a naughty hasher, waits for no man.

On, on!