It was very generous of Tigger to put her mansion at our disposal for the morning, even though it was a mild day no one fancied a dip in the swimming pool at the far end of the extensive lawns that extend from the rear of the main house.
Hairbrush turned up to give his knee it's first outdoor outing since the A27 roadside emergency just over a year ago, coincidentally with the same hares in attendance. Also it was nice to see Sure Shot's smiling face again after having had a bit of a break from hashing last year.
Naturally the main topic of conversation as we prepared ourselves in Tigger's tastily decorated stables was the state of the Lavant, with the hares doing their best to gently dampen any expectation that we would be attempting any crossings after the wettest recorded year in England. Our soon to be ex JM's, looking surprisingly fresh considering the excesses of the previous evening at Flash's seventieth party, commenced proceedings promptly on the hour. In time honoured fashion the hares tried to tell us everything without telling us anything, placing a pair of flippers at Splasher's disposal should he need them and then we issued forth into suburbia, this year without a pre-run group snap.
After a few annoying little loops to the east of Maplehurst Rd we found the long way through the wet and slippery copse and out to cross Summersdale Rd with every indication that we were headed for Brandy Hole. Old Faithful and Bika really took the bait and went a long way in that direction before having to be called back as we headed north up Highland Rd and then The Lane to be treated to a short tour of the Blood-Flamingo estate and its crunchy gravel drive.
Snake Charmer went charging off down The Avenue all the way to The Drive and appeared to indicate a check, so a bunch of us followed, as you would, only to find the hares calling us all back but only after we went a long way in that direction, sadists!. Chestnut Ave and the north end of The Drive were used to get us on to the sunken lane to Raughmere with Pansci in the lead, closely followed by Hairbrush, Snake Charmer, Splasher, Bika, etc. The predicable check half way served well to bunch the pack, so when we arrived at the top of the lane to find a dreaded Fish Hook with numero five the unlucky ones were Flash, Bambi, Olive Oyl, Pancsi and Bika.
From here most of the pack headed on the public footpath towards Lavant which was false, while the hares and a few others ambled west on the private lane, across the main road and out to Centurion Way, ah! the number times that we have been here. North then, with a small loop through the new houses in Meadow Close and up the embankment to cross CWay east, then the main road and descend to the bank of the raging torrent of water which the Lavant has now become.
Flash and Old Faithful immediately jumped in exclaiming that the water was warm (not going to fall for that one again) while a feeble attempt to dunk Splasher failed because he was obviously expecting it and had backed well away. Bika managed a fireman's lift on Snake Charmer and waded somewhat precariously a few steps into the water while Flash treated them to a free shower of hand splashed pure downland spring water.
With playtime over and much reduced pace we had little trouble finding the trail over the bridge and then south along Fordwater Rd, although only a few (including Spiderman judging by the GPS track that he kindly provided) took the official route around the edge of the racing circuit, the rest short cutted alongside the Lavant and were treated to a lovely muddy ankle deep slurry. We reached the On-In after one hour and fifteen minutes of entertaining hashing (thank you hares!) and were soon re-robing in readiness for the feast to follow.
We have come to expect a good spread after a hangover hash and this year was no exception. As usual I wasted no time in filling a glass and loading a plate and plead guilty to the charge of not enquiring exactly who had had a hand in its provision. To these kind people I wish to express a big Thank You!.
Our outgoing JMs had only three remaining opportunities to amaze us; first they presented the days Hash-It to Bika for sexual discrimination (helping Snake Charmer up the embankment while pushing Flash back), second they announced the Hasher Of The Year to be none other than Splasher (for dedication over many years and great horse racing tips) and third that the new Joint Masters are Snake Charmer and Pancsi.
The old order changed and the new thanked Flash and Panda for their year in charge, as did we all. And finally..... The Raffle ? I am reliably informed by Treefeller that Popeye and Olive Oyl (if you consider them as a single entity) were the most fortunate this year with a record breaking eight tickets out of the bowl, while Treefeller ?only? had five. Unsurprisingly the paperback by Jeremy Clarkson and one of those wooden massage rollers were the last items remaining on the table, which would you prefer ?.
P.S. It is with great pleasure that we announce that her majesty The Queen has awarded Member of the Order of the British Empire to Bika in her new year honours list. We can only assume that this was for services to hashing, because he is useless at everything else.