NOTE: Hell's comments on Aaron's write-up are in [square brackets]
Helen had a rare attack of common sense [so cheeky!] and suggested we take the XTrail as we may need to park 'off road' and our Audi is rather low, point proven by Matthew Wright but hopefully just superficial damage [I fear on this occasion I was right Mr Wright]! Another common sense award goes to Dashwood Dick for his efficient parking which trended well throughout further arrivals as we definitely wouldn't have managed if we had all parked along the road edge.
We joined the usual huddle awaiting the start. To everyone's delight the short was sub-3 miles and the long was sub-5 miles, the weather was kind and we checked it out. Heading down the road, between the hedges and then across the road, through fields and up the field on the hill that keeps on giving. The long/short split came at the edge of Bloom Wood with a well-signed kissing gate allowing public access to private land, little did we know of the drama that was about to unfold! The longs set off to see if there was any more gradient hiding around the many corners. Meanwhile the shorts were hearing the unexpected cry of 'petrol' while on a woodland track only to be confronted by an angry farmer complete with bodyguard trying to look menacing while riding pillion on a quad bike. Luckily Mick stepped up and contained the situation with some of his famous 'Bourne End Charm'.
The first any of us longs knew of this was that our flour had been scrubbed out in the woods. "Who would do that?" we all muttered while running through a lovely mix of single- and wide-tracked woodland. Shortly, via the magic of modern communications, Roger told us of the encounter with said farmer and with a burst déjà vu that we had come across this situation here before! A short discussion later [after noting the team outfits being sported by Mr Staines junior & senior] we abandoned the remains or our flour and set off down the public rights of way with Sandra doing a great job of setting as we went. The inevitable happened and at a well-planned ambush we had our own little chat with the now infamous quad bike duo.
One mature conversation later some well-contained hashers set off and with the words "I will be getting in contact with you" hanging in the air we retraced our steps to the previously-mentioned kissing gate and promptly headed 'on Inn' back to the pub for great beer and chips to the repeated tune of 'Happy Birthday To You'. I never did get to find out why ... I guess you just had to be there... [I think Aaron could get himself a job in this pub as the fuse re-setter, he did a sterling job replenishing our light throughout the evening! Although he couldn't help the more vertically-endowed (Zak & Kevin) with the lack of headroom in the pub. I myself found standing under the beams no problem, there are a few advantages of being on the petite side!]
Thanks Allen, Sandra and D4.
PS I never did get a reply on which flour the dogs preferred, maybe we can save that for a less eventful week.