A lovely sunny morning at the start of what turned out to be a good spell of unseasonably warm weather managed to persuade a good turnout to a familiar venue.
With both our JMs on a cruise/loveboat which is one drawback of having closely coupled JMs, it fell to Old Faithful to welcome everyone and make an appeal for us all to be whistleblowers because his powers of observation are notoriously weak.
Bika made some sort of half mumbled plea for us to change our hash marks to be more like those used by most of the other nearby Hashes, what the EU would call harmonisation. Needless to say the request was summarily dismissed by our stand in JM as being frivolous, without further discussion.
Snake Charmer and Yours Truly then attempted to weave the usual web of lies before we directed the pack west along the road to the entrance to Benges Wood. Lugging a load of flour over the route earlier in the day had left YT plum tuckered out, so it was Snake Charmer who monitored events amongst the front runners while YT brought up the rear. Consequently the remainder of this verbage is from the perspective of a tail end Charlie.
Heading north west, us at the back caught everyone up half way down the path to Droke Hanger where the check had worked well to reverse pack order, with all obvious paths proving false and leaving an off trail deer track west into the heart of Benges Wood as the only way to go. The select rearguard consisting of Spiderman, Spiderwoman, Wee Ginge, Shureshot and YT were having a fine old time nattering along, following the swathe of destruction wrought by the preceding stampede as we made our way north and then west again parallel to the road to East Dean memorably passing the fresh gore of a half eaten deer in Droke Hanger.
A re-group at spot height .97 (if you have an OS map) gathered us all together again. At the restart Mussolini and Pancsi disappeared west towards the car park at Droke on a long falsie from which they did not return, while the rest found the trail north across the road up into Charlton Forest with Dr Blood and Canman bringing up the rear, finding an unexpected density of discarded aluminium beverage containers.
The trail was then a loop west on the flank of Oxen Down and then south down the steep descent, passing a dead rabbit that elicited a scream or two from some of the younger hashers, to the car park at Droke where a whole load of shortcutters were waiting.
The narrow uphill track south east from Droke saw just about everyone walking, a long yellow millipede wending its way up through the trees to the top of Selhurstpark Hill. A few more checks and a bit of a bramble scramble heading east and soon we arrived at the On-In after a longish one hour and thirty minutes.
At the circle there was mention of Aaron who was buzzing around like a bee at the start but like a zombie by the end and those that missed out the loop into Charlton Forest, however Bika attracted the Hash-It by going on and on about why we should adopt the three dots and you are on rule.
We retreated to The George to continue the debate and found efficient service, cold dry cider, and little shade in the garden.