BARNEY & DAVE'S BIG NIGHT OUT
Another busy day so, watching the early afternoon news, I realised that Barney was coming. No, not our treasurer, the one with the rattling tin who can sniff out a pint of best bitter at half a mile, but a nasty storm supposedly bringing winds of apocalyptic proportions to Buckinghamshire.
Much of the remaining afternoon was spent texting the S.C.S members and E Mailing Gerry, who seems to have a personal hot line to the Met. Office, to canvas opinions as to whether to venture out to darkest Penn Street to get blown around.
However, this was a special night. Not only was it Dave's Big Birthday but our gallant hare Maggie had, following a Monday lay through Penn Woods, and having misgivings about the idea of running about in the woods in a gale, spent Tuesday morning resetting the trail with a view to avoiding every tree or other foliage which might conceivably go from the vertical to the horizontal resulting in a flat hasher. Such devotion to duty is to be both admired and applauded.
Having been suitably assured and reassured that the roads were going to be passable and that life was not going to be threatened any more than it would be by eating a three year old tub of twiglets, which I confess to having done although this was without prior reference to the sell by date, the gear was donned and I sallied forth.
At the pub it was very windy but Maggie's fears of a low turnout were proved groundless as us hounds were pleasingly numerous and after a preamble, which was largely inaudible due to the wind and the usual hash hubbub, we were off on what Maggie described as a shortened trail on roads and across open country.
The route took us right from the pub, then right again up a potholed track leading to a footpath towards Priestlands Wood where the trepidation caused by wildly swaying trees coming into view was quickly dispersed as we went left along a tree free footpath to Penn Farm.
From here we ran along the road, turning off up Horsemoor Lane before taking a left and then right across open country with the wind gusting so hard as to make the usual hash banter a touch difficult.
Re-emerging on Horsemoor Lane, ahhhh – a long short split with us shorts heading down the lane whilst Maggie took the longs on a nice loop round past the edge of Branches Wood to again find themselves back on the Lane.
A pull across more open, windswept country brought us to Glory Farm which was traversed to reach Fagnall Farm on, not surprisingly, Fagnall Lane. From here it was a jog uphill to Winchmore Hill, passing the Potters Arms, then downhill through housing to Whielden Lane.
From this point a straight forward clip along the Lane led us back again past Penn Street Farm, the very nice but pricey Hit or Miss (beer over £4 a pint, Matt please note!!!), then round the corner and On Inn to the Squirrel, a welcoming sight. I believe that the longs, being keener than keen, did a loop back along the outward trail to boost the mileage.
Back in that heart of all hashes, the boozer, a fine array of hand pumps was duly checked out, although the one which even Barney had not heard of immediately ran out, and ale was dispensed into thirsty throats.
As it was Dave's Big 8-0, Gerry had arranged for a suitably classy Hash t-shirt to be produced which, in dribs and drabs, we all signed with indelible marker pens. This was not easy and I believe the priceless instruction of "pull it tight and do it hard" was issued in order to get the job done.
Yummy chips with accompanying sausage things and spicy samosas were followed with a raucous heartfelt rendition of the birthday song and, even better, by Maggie's delicious birthday cake. Ah, beer, chips & cake – another calorific disaster but ooh so nice.
I am sure that I am not alone in wanting so say a big thank you to Maggie for her efforts in difficult circumstances and for the catering, together with best wishes to that young stag Dave who looks younger by the year! Must be the cake.