Tuesday’s run really began the day before, on Monday, because it did not rain. That at least set the scene for a drier-than-we-have-seen-for-the-last-few-weeks ground.
Tuesday also went went. Drying continued. The run was close to home so I arrived earlier than usual and so was able to claim pole parking position.
Our hare for the evening was David B. Claimed to be a virgin hare but you know, however much you sand and polish, you just cannot hide the evidence that shows you have done this before. Also, the thoroughness of the preparation and the execution give the game away. Not least persuading your wife to chaperone the runners over hill and dale while you take on the more onerous task of consoling the walking wounded at the bar.
To warm up, we made a loop around Tylers Green village hall, following a route only too familiar to anyone who has done the Penn 7 run, incorporating a bit of the run in followed by a little of the starting straight.
“Anyone for tennis” was heard as we passed the tennis courts to our right. Thus distracted we stumbled into the bare fields beyond and headed for Pugh’s Wood. Great care has to be taken negotiating the path down through the wood as roots and mud patches abound.
A long short split followed in Common Wood which was really an opportunity for us to see the false trail where the hare had mislaid his route. Suitably impressed we regained the group just in time be split again. Our route went up the hill towards Penn House, then just as abruptly down again to rejoin the main trail at Pennhouse Grove.
This meant climbing back up the same hill we had just descended and into the environs of Winchmore Hill.
Another split took us to within spitting distance of the Potters Arms (and its welcoming fire) before wrenching us back to P11 and Branches Wood. Downhill, note.
A quick dash along Penn Bottom Road saw us all safely into relative safety of Crown Lane (according to the map, although I am sure that I saw a road sign that said it was Noak’s Lane. I will investigate further and report back). An immediate right turn took us into fields again and a run along the valley floor. No sign of the rest of the pack (shorts). P25 took us uphill again and gave us an opportunity to look back at the moon. T’was blood red we smelled ill fortune on the wind. In times gone by I think I might have been tempted to make a sacrifice to appease the gods but it’s against Health and Safety regulations now, so I didn’t.
Puttenham place flashed by, as did two tennis players on bikes. Is this a new form of biathlon? Pop!! We emerged back into civilisation by the Red Lion, saw that the Horse and Jockey was close by and upped our game.
Back in pub we were treated to a choccy extravaganza of “Rocky Road” because it was Maggie’s birthday (just past). As a thank you we gave a noisy rendition of the usual song, accompanied by enthusiastic clapping from the landlord’s wife (who is Brazilian and runs a cleaning agency. So says my mole).
While completing the register I saw Whipping Boy pocket a beer mat. I looked quizzically at him. He held it up. “Brown” was written on it. “My girlfriend’s surname said WB”.
Now if I had done and said this, you might have reasonably assumed that my memory was beginning to fail. However WB has only just left the flush of youth behind him so a failing memory would probably not be appropriate. I had another thought. As WB is a single man, perhaps he has a spare room in his house (kept locked of course) that looks like a scene out Prime Suspect. One wall is covered in photographs of current girlfriends. His challenge is to remember all their names. As an memory exercise, and because it is fun, he has to find and then match beermats to faces.
“Old Peculiar”. Obviously the most recent ex.
“Dog Snifter”. His brother's 8 pinter.
A prize for the most amusing response from our readers.
Sooper Cooper was also seated at my table.
A few minutes into his beer, he realized that he had left his mobile phone in his car. Tic. Index finger on right hand starts drumming on table.
Five minutes later, tic, tic. Left foot taps in synchronicity.
Five minutes more, tic, tic, tic. Right cheek twitches in double time.
Five minutes more, tic, tic, tic, boom. He jumps up and bids farewell. “I can’t stand it any longer. I might have missed a call”. Off he runs to get his byte size fix.
So thanks Dave (and Maggie). Went like clockwork.