A cool grey still aired morning had not kept folk at home by their fires, no, their chariots were already crowded into the small triangle of green by the Ems bridge in Walderton as hashers arrived, each having more difficulty than the last to find a safe place for their wheels.
Fortuitous then that The Chamois and Doc arrived by taxi, hoping that no one would notice amongst the general chaos of jostling cars and the distraction of Pancsi holding a car boot sale of bright yellow cotton garments.
There was quite a throng of the usual honed athletes, including an all too rare visit by Shureshot, as our JM made a few admin announcements, yawn yawn, before handing over to the hares who gave us a rather surreal briefing. Apparently the trail had been laid by "live hares", by which I think they meant that they were still alive rather than just about to rush off and do it, and it had been laid from both ends towards the middle, so that one of them had laid a trail forwards while the other had laid a trail backwards.
Laying a trail backwards takes a great deal of concentration and attention to detail, dnatsrednu lliw uoy erus ma I sa.
In any event there were to be two regroups somewhere in there also.
Without any initial directional assistance the pack spread out in all directions, Flash yet again being optimistic about the path up Walderton Down and Bika starting down the long long no junction path to Lordington. There was no joy for these two as the true trail via Manor Farm to the edge of the big field just north of the village was discovered.
A major choice here, Stoughton or Watergate, with Pancsi, Old Faithful, Bambi and Splasher taking the wrong choice as the pack headed up the ridge north east towards Stoughton. With two or three "slow em down" checks on the way the trail kept to the ridge all the way up to the southern edge of Inholmes Wood where a regroup allowed all to catch their breath after the long climb.
Here again the same choice, this time just Steve and Bika opted for Watergate while all of the rest including the hare (an old ploy this) went for Stoughton .... yes you guessed it ... you can finish the remainder of this paragraph.
By the time that the pack caught up with the two FRBs they had made it north west crossing the road and climbing to a regroup in Haslett Copse.
I think that this might have been where the backward laid run met the forward laid run because there was a gap in the flour here which Dr Blood had to guide us through, the slight delay gave time to discover and start to chomp on some sweet small green apples the variety of which Canman disclosed to us, can you remember the variety?.
Under way again, and pausing only to wonder at a group of plastic beehives we made our way south west through Warren Copse to the third of the two regroups at Watergate. Then without difficulty we found our way west across the road and roped ourselves together for the climb up Watergate Hangar to reach the fourth of the two regroups just inside the tree line at the top.
From the restart, most favoured looking on the southerly wooded path while first Olive Oyl and then Panda got way out ahead on the official FP south at the field edge. We soon caught them up however as the trail dodged into the wood again after a quarter of a mile and they overran the swerve.
We continued south to meet Woodlands Lane where everyone rightly chose to head down the hill for home, seeing the On-In after a testing one and a half hours of late autumnal hashing.
At the circle there was thanks to the hares before Steve received severe censure for refusing to carry the Hash-It (at least he had remembered to bring it) and Bambi had said something or other regarding the frame of our male JM that involved the words Barn and Door, however the JM's benevolence fell on The Chamois and Doc for the manner of their arrival.
The Barley Mow had the honour of the pack's custom.