Date = 3rd January 2016
Run Number = 1655
Venue = The Blacksmith’s Arms
Location= St Albans
Beer = Loads
Hares = Tent Packer
Runners = 15
Virgins = 0
Visitors = 2
Après Hashers = 0
Newies = 0
Hounds = 0
Total = 17
Membership = Enduring the drizzle!
This week saw a surprisingly good turnout considering the weather, it was dull & damp enough for some to hide away in the shelter of their homes. When Mr X said that he had received a message from Pebbledash about the following week’s Sunday Lunch options, Paxo commented with a “She’ll be at home due to the rain, and Pepé le Pew wouldn’t want to be out & getting his highly polished ATC boots wet either!”
This week saw the return of the Hashit, as Mother was wearing it & it looked extremely clean, well a bit! Both she & Lemming had put in an appearance for the first time for quite a while. Anyhow more of the Hashit later, the Pack circled up outside of the Blacksmiths Arms, which wasn’t open for breakfast as the sign on the wall declared.
Every time Tent Packer began to speak for his introduction another two would join the Pack. When it did get underway, Tent Packer began things with a very quick “Thanks to the RA for this week’s weather!” in order to avoid being blamed for the light precipitation at the closing Circle.
Tent Packer then introduced Canny Cant, then his wife Jen & Tonic. Who were ex-Qatar & West London. Then there was a hiatus in his speech as Ewok masochistically pointed out her own New Shoes! Lemming for one was stunned & asked “Does she know the Rules?” [Everyone knows that there are no Rules on the Hash, except for whatever the RA concocts, Oh, & of course Drinking from out of wearing New Shoes! – Ed]
Tent Packer then went on to explain what the Pack had to watch out for on Trail. Having been warned of busy roads to cross, Tent Packer added that there were parts of the Trail that had ‘supreme Shiggy’ before he mentioned that there were short cuts, then the Hash were ushered away north-eastward up toward St Peter’s Church at the north end of the small side road off of St Peter’s Street.
Mr X, My Lil’ & Lemming led the way up in to the graveyard of St Peter’s Church, within the Church Grounds the Pack split in to two, with these three taking the path that runs by the front doors to the Church, the others headed off eastward toward the footpath off out of that end of the graveyard.
Dust was found out on St Peter’s Street by Lemming & he was followed by Mr X & My Lil’ on beyond the old Alms Houses & over the end of Townsend Avenue but then they came to a halt as they suddenly ran on to the ‘On Inn’ on the way up toward the Triangle in the road where St Peter’s Street splits in two two different roads!
Lemming, Mr X & My Lil’ turned back & having seen the rest of the Hash on their way up St Peters Street toward them, they assumed that the Trail must go off down Townsend Avenue, of course those on their way up also thought the same thing but when the Hare arrived he began to call everyone back, saying that “I don’t know why they have gone that way? There’s no Dust up there!”
Back on to St Peters & it was a second visit to see the ‘On Inn’ for some, a glance over the crossing revealed no Dust before the Trail was seen up over the Triangle in the road in front of what was the Cricketer’s Pub, it is now an Indian Restaurant, there a CHK was found by ‘Snatchup Alley’ [Steady Pebbledash! – Ed] that runs along the west side of the former Cricketers.
Mr X led the way down Snatchup Alley toward where it comes out on to Stonecross Road, a T at the end of the alleyway soon put pay to any further progress to the northeast. On the way back the sign post for ‘Snatchup Alley’ was pointed out to Milf, so she & Max Factor stopped, each draped a leg over it for a photo-shoot while Kylie did the honours with the camera. While this was going on the rest were on their way down the north-bound Harpenden Road.
While making up ground on the FRBs of Alfa Male, Ewok, Lemming, Sparky & My Lil’, Mr X had to stop for a brief time to allow the Traffic to pass by the large puddle at the roads edge, a few cars pulled out of the way to avoid the splash of water over the path but the RA waited until it was safe to get by the large pool of dirty rainwater.
The front of the Pack would soon be back together from the CHK by Heath Farm Road, as Ewok, Lemming, Alfa Male & Sparky all went wrong, with some continuing down the road to the entrance of the local Fire Station to be stopped by a T, & others heading out toward the open space of Bernard’s Heath behind the homes to the east.
“On!” was called as the Trail was picked up on the desire line of a path that runs through the woodland behind the Ambulance & Fire Stations, Lemming seemed unimpressed at the sight of the local Youth Club the Trail would pass by. However, once inside the wood Lemming stopped for a pee & the rustling startled Ewok who wondered what he was doing in amongst the bushes [Whoa there Pebbledash! – Ed]
The Shiggy began to get better as the FRBs made their way on by the large circular concrete wall that is the last remaining structure that was a World-War II water reservoir that were dotted throughout the woodland. The information sign also mentioned that this area was once the site of a huge explosion, the UK’s largest at the time, at a former rendering factory that made glue & flammable fat-based products from animal carcasses, this must have been the Buncefield of it day.
The Trail emerged from the woodland to come out on to the Harpenden Road near to the traffic light junction by Ancient Briton Harvester, there was little messing around at this busy main junction & the Pack were led straight over from the Ancient Briton on Beech Road to a CHK by the start of another section of woodland, this one being the deep ditch of the historic remains of the pre-Roman fortifications here, these were built at the same time as the ‘Devil’s Dyke’ [Careful there Pebbledash! – Ed] in Wheathampstead.
If the first stretch of Shiggy was good, then the long path along top of the south-eastern embankment of the ditch would surpass that. Canny Cant was slowed up on this stretch, he was not alone as other’s didn’t have the grip of new Shoes like Ewok. It was pointed out to Ewok that she’d have been better off breaking in her New Shoes on a Town Run, like a Full Moon Pub Crawl!
The undulating & twisting Path around the beech trees was slippery, so slippery in parts it was a wonder that no one ended up slipping over the edge of the embankment & tumbling down the 30 foot slope to the bottom of the northeast bound ditch, this ancient monument was all dug out by hand, which is quite impressive by any means.
A CHK by the short alleyway on to Beech Road caught out Alfa Male, while the rest continued along the top of the beech lined ancient fortification, eventually this would come out to the road that cuts through the two parts of the Ditch which is known as Beech Bottom Dyke, there was a short loop in to the next part of the ancient fortifications, but by the time Mr X arrived he could see a large arrow on Valley Road to the southeast.
Sparky was already heading away along Valley Road & blowing his horn to get the attention of the rest, so Mr X & those behind him cut out that loop to follow on behind Sparky. Alfa Male emerged from the loop & just like Lemming before him, he commented on the RA short cutting this bit, Mr X did ‘a Sludge’ & pointed out that there was no T to prevent this action!
The Trail now led up this suburban street to come out to another set of traffic lights on a main crossroads, this being opposite the King Billy (William IV) Pub. The Trail passed by the Pub & headed south-westward down the Sandridge road, but Sparky, Milf, Ewok, Alfa Male, Mother, Lemming, Mr X & My Lil’ all stopped by the Pub for an impromptu regroup.
During this respite in the Trail, Mr X went over to see what Ales were on offer in the King Billy, he claimed that he hadn’t been in that Pub for at least 20 Years. Ewok said she didn’t have a clue where she was, Mr X said that they were by the railway bridge where the train line passes beneath the bridge at the junction, he pointed out the road to Sandridge & Ewok was taken aback by the RA’s pronouncing of Sandridge with an extended a as in Saarnd-ridge, as the locals call it & not Sand-ridge like the Hoi Polloi would.
After around 10 minutes waiting for the Hare to appear with Jen & Tonic, as well as 2-1-2 Maureen, from a non-existent short-cut, there was no sign of any of them, so the FRBs decided to move on before the rain began to permeate the Hash clothing. It turned out that Jen & Tonic & 2-1-2 Maureen were doing all of the Trail & refused the Short Cut that was offered by Tent Packer.
The Trail made its way all the way down the Sandridge road toward the centre of St Albans, starting off on the Sandridge Road on an area known as ‘the Wastes’. They are historic commons with their own history & byelaws for grazing & fenced-off fields for arable strip farming, there are still many allotments in this area.
The Wastes are as old as the Manor and Parish of Sandridge before being gifted to St Albans Abbey in 797. Livestock was still being walked to market & could rest and graze, until well into the 20th century, so the Pack would have felt at home as the made their way along this very historic part of St Albans, as in 1461 this droveway formed the axis of the fighting in the Second Battle of St Albans (Wars of the Roses). Thousands were killed before the Yorkist army, under Warwick the Kingmaker [No relation to Paxo? – Ed], was defeated & retreated north through Sandridge. After the Abbey’s properties were seized by the Crown, the Wastes were bought back as part of the Manor of Sandridge.
The Wastes were managed by the parish of Sandridge until 1913, when the St Albans City boundary was extended north to where the King William IV pub now stands. The City Corporation Byelaws were enacted in 1915 for the Sandridge Road, Sandpit Lane Wastes & for the commons of Bernards Heath.
Sparky & Mr X stopped to read the one surviving metal 1915 sign commemorating the unique byelaws carrying the name of “B.V. Entwistle, Town Clerk”. This sign is a nice piece of gender & social history in its own right because “Betty” Entwistle was one of the first women town clerks in the country.
The Trail led all the way up by the recreation ground on Bernards Heath, Mr X & My Lil’ were surprised that there wasn’t a loop around this but instead the Trail continued on toward Stonecross Road as it leads from the Junction of Sandpit lane opposite, where a small corner shop sits & it still has an original Hovis sign from the 1930’s on display outside.
It was on this last stretch that Sparky ran up behind people ahead of him as pushed a gold coin in to their palms, it wasn’t the ‘Kings Shilling’ but a chocolate coin, Mr X wondered if it was a Chocolate Groat [A coin from Sparky’s era? - Ed] which from Edward I’s reign was the equivalent of 4d (Old pence) in England, it was also that in Scotland before rising to 8d then a whole a Shilling! They ceased to be minted in 1856! But where they in date? Well, Sparky had been in the 99 pence Sop in St Peter’s Street before the Trail to purchase these.
The Trail came up by the Jolly Sailor, then for the third time & final time that day Mr X would pass the On Inn! Back by the red-brick walls of the Alms Houses & through to the grounds of St Peters again. Even with the wait near the King Billy, the Keenies were back at the On Inn around ten minutes before opening, the RA commented on the sight of them all waiting for the Door’s to open!
When the Doors were opened the FRBs got to see the excellent choices of Ales on sale, spoilt for choice they were. The Hash settled down near the mock log fire, soon there were Hash Boots in front of this & were being dried out by the warm air currents it was throwing out from underneath.
Canny Cant was concerned about the whereabouts of Jen & Tonic, she was back with the Hare & 2-1-2 Maureen, even Mrs Mallett was back before the others & was wondering where the Hare was? A phone call from Canny Cant led to the RA using his local knowledge to direct them down the Sandridge Road, Canny Cant then went out to find his Wife.
Eventually the Lost Sheep were back at the Pub, then No Eye Deer arrived, just before Ewok escaped her New Shoes being Christened as she & Paxo did a Sloppy Seconds & left to avoid the Down-Downs [Perhaps not quite a ‘Sloppy Seconds’ as they did collect the Subs & paid up before leaving! – Ed]
The Circle was out under a slightly leaky awning by the Pub’s back garden door, the Hare was rewarded for the Trail, especially as the Hash were back before opening time! The Newie of Canny Cant (Jen & Tonic remained in the Bar with Mrs Mallett) for completing his first Herts Trail. When it came to the Hashit, Mother was teased about the Herts Tradition of the person awarded it has to wear it for the number of weeks it has been absent until its return. Mother didn’t look happy as Lemming said “You’ll never get it back in that case!”
Relief came for Mother in the guise of Alfa Male, who was awarded the Hashit for falling of the most Falsies on this Trail!