This was the second annual WEMSFEST run (Westbourne and Emsworth Festival) organised by virgin hares on a day that started in misty mild greyness and developed into warm sunny comfort.
There was a good sized turnout, made up mostly of Chi hashers including the seldom seen Brylcreem and Hugh Pead both of whom live within spitting distance of the pub. We also welcomed Rusty and Alan and dog for the first time since catching the bug in Barbados and a couple from Cambridge Hash I think?. Strictly speaking, as we were guests on this hash I did not make a note of any other unfamiliar faces, or to put it another way I was just too lazy.
Right on time the hares appeared, recognisable by wearing a ruck-sack and being covered in white dusty patches. Anyone who is a "Regular" knows that hashers are noted for their inability to comprehend any of the hares' directions. So, when we were told that the true trail was marked by three dots and false trails by two dots and a T, then most of us did not appreciate that this would be literally true.
In any event the hares told us to start off south east on Westbourne Road while they sped off to complete the trail which was only half laid. So we charged out with the vague possibility of being able to catch them.
Three dots on the first path south alongside the stream and three dots at the top of Mill Lane and we were moving nicely but then frustration and hesitation as we headed a long way down the lane without finding any flour. We had not realised that there was none, that it was never intended for there to be any.
Remember the bit about the true trail being indicated by three dots, well we had not understood that this meant ONLY three dots. Still puzzled we found flour on the south side of the bridge over the A27 and a falsie east in the field, however this split the pack in two with group A running south in the field towards Hermitage (Brylcreem's locale) and group B heading west towards Lumley Mill, both looking for a trail that wasn't there.
Only now the light bulbs start to flash on in the pack's rather opaque grey matter. By the time group A decided to back track to the three dots heading west, group B led by speedy Hugh who was using local knowledge to good effect was way way ahead. Appreciating this, Bika made a desperate attempt to mark the checks using broken branch arrows and scraping marks in the gravel to help group A catch up.
Even group B was spread out, by the time the FRBs (Hugh, Old Faithful, Kermit, Rusty, Pink Flamingo ...) got the message to stop for a regroup they had run south past Lumley Mill and into Brook Meadow reserve, clockwise north up to Seagull Lane, west across North Street on Victoria Road and then north under the A27 on Washington Road to the edge of the sports field.
After waiting a long long time Snake Charmer and Pancsi sauntered along, the only survivors of group A with news that the rest were roaming thither and yon around Emsworth. Thus a slightly larger group B, now wise to the style of the trail made short work of completing the course up Horndean Road, east into the houses at Bellvue Lane etc over to the cycle path at the top of Westbourne Ave, into Westbourne, arriving back at the White Horse after one hour and seven minutes of novel hashing.
Amazingly, despite the rumours of everyone else being lost, it seems that Brylcream had shepherded group A safely On-In, so there was already a crowd at the bar. There was little by way of ceremony, Snake Charmer said some words and we had short debate about the relative merits of Tee shirt design, V neck or polo, sleeved or singlet etc etc yawn.
The hares, who had already moved on to the next festival event, were not able to receive our thanks for providing a memorable hash and hear that we are looking forward to number three next year