Date = 7th August 2016
Run Number = 1688
Venue = Chez Mrs Mallet et Tent Packer
Beer = Rev James; Spitfire; Fursty Ferret; The Nun’s Delight (Bishops Finger!)
Hares = Tent Packer
Runners = 15
Virgins = 0
Visitors = 0
Après Hashers = 2
Newies = 0
Hounds = 0
Total = 17
Membership = Watching out for the Pigs!
The Hash gathered at ‘Mallet-Packer Towers’ in the leafy suburbs of Harpenden, it was slightly overcast & earlier there was a light drizzle as some sheltered at St Albans City Station while waiting to catch the Train up to Harpenden. By the time the RA & Beermaster had alighted the one stop up the Bed-Pan line, the Rain had ceased.
After a short walk Mr X & My Lil’ turned the corner on to Townsend Lane, there they got to see the GM sitting on a sun chair on the Hosts’ driveway, she was keeping company with Sloppy Seconds; 2-1-2 Maureen, Crispy Bush, Sparky & Tent Packer. Then Maid in China arrived, followed by Ketchup & Jaron, the latter two’s appearance on a Sunday surprised My Lil’ & a few more. Ketchup said that he knew exactly how long it takes for a journey out to Harpenden, as he’s dropping Daddies Sauce off at the Rothampstead Research Centre where he’s working over the School Holidays.
Sludge arrived & he backed up in to the drive to box-in Sloppy Second’s ‘Fanny-magnet’. My Lil’ kept tapping his watch & commenting on the fact that the time had gone 11:00Hrs & no Circle had been called. Sludge said that My Lil’ must have not known it was a Noon Start? [It wasn’t! – Ed]
Ewok got things going around 5 past the hour, her introduction had a lot of ‘Uming & Arghing’ as well as a few prompts toward Milf for a hint at the Run Number, eventually they settled on the correct one which was 1688! Ewok welcomed back Crispy Bush to Herts, as well as Sparky who hasn’t been seen for an age, but Sparky’s reputation came before him & a few already knew about his falling over at the UK Qatar weekend!
Then it was over to the Hare, who mentioned usual Herts Markings, followed by the Pack being made aware of a Crematory, roads to cross, some town running, some greenery, a permissive route that had a ‘No Dogs’ sign & to keep an eye out for some pigs!
So, things began with Sparky led the way down Townsend Lane on the opposite side of the road from Mallet Packer Towers. At the Junction with the main Luton Road, the Trail headed northwestward on the A108 toward Luton. As the 321 Bus passed by, Mr X said to Milf that he could have used his Rover Ticket to get him up ahead of Sparky!
The Trail passed beneath the bridge that carries the ‘Nicky Line’ above & as the Dust continued northwestward beyond the old Redbourn to Hemel Hempstead Railway line that used to join the line to Luton. Mr X said that he believed the Hash were going to be run around a figure of 8, with the Trail crossing above them on the bridge they had just passed underneath.
Next up was a set of the Traffic lights for the road works on the northern side of the bridge, an arrow directed the way over to the eastside of the road, there the Dust would lead the Hash up the steep suburban Bloomfield Road, even Sparky’s pace dropped on the climb up on what was a fairly sultry day.
At the top of the northeastern ascent the road came out on to Ambrose Lane, at this T Junction a CHK could be seen over the road. Maid in China was now up with the FRBs as Sparky, Ewok & Milf began to check things out. Sparky chose to go through the gate in to the Ambrose wood beside the northern edge of the Harpenden Bupa Hospital grounds, he would find the Trail as it headed away to the north before arcing around back to the northeast.
The Dust would leave the shade of the woodland for a short way, as it passed through a gate & ran along the edge of the Wheatfield right up beside the edge of the sheltered Hospital Grounds, then at another gate the Dust would lead back in amongst the trees. The permissive Path was softer than that of the tarmac, but as it looped around to the inside of the northern edge a few areas of ‘pudding stone’ made it a bit harder under foot.
Ewok was caught up with as the Path moved over toward the centre of the woodland, at a point where a CHK was found. Mr X, No Eye Deer & Sloppy Seconds all went wrong to the east on what is a new territory for Herts to cover, instead the likes of Sludge, Maid in China, Sparky & Ewok were all “On!” the correct route on the northeastern path that turned to come out to where the RA had almost stumbled upon before turning back!
By the time they had got back on Trail, Mr X, No Eye Deer & Sloppy met up with My Lil’ & Whatever She Says as it came out through a gap in the woods edge, No Eye Deer corrected Whatever She Says’s comment of “Through this way!” with a “After two years you should know it’s On! On!”
Anyhow, the FRBs made their way out in to the open fields at the top end of the grounds of the Highfield Oval, with the Railway line on the east side of the fields the Trail had no choice but to turn to the south as it hugged the uneven contour of the wood’s edge. This avoided crossing the Wicket in the middle of the green space.
Mr X said that he & the Keenies had been led around a loop,
betting that the SCBs would be coming out of the woodland further back near the
pavilion for the sports pitches. My Lil’ was now grumbling like an old appendix
as he said about the Hare “He should have put me on the Short Cut, what with my
injury!” Then as if to rub salt in to his aching
knee wounds, Sludge
appeared out of the trees ahead of My Lil’!
Crispy Bush, then 2-1-2 Maureen followed Sludge out of the Woodland, with the Hare in tow & they joined the others in heading out of the car park & on to the Highfield Oval. Ewok asked Mr X what the picturesque Highfield Oval was, he said he believed it was a Children’s’ Centre. In fact in 1913 the National Children’s Home opened this place to succeed their Headquarters in Bethnal Green, it’s a model of a Childrens’ Home with family like houses built around the large green oval.
The Cemetery that was mentioned by the Hare is also here, it is the last resting place for the kids that died there, as well as the Sisters who looked after them, but Sludge, Milf & Maid in China probably would have missed this as they were well away around the green & out of the gated entrance to the southeast. Mr X, Ketchup & Jaron were all called back by the Hare, stopping them cutting directly across the green oval space but to follow the Trail around the circular road that encapsulates it.
The concept of trying to keep the Children’s Home to look like a normal family residencies certainly doesn’t make them look like an institution. The Trail lead out of the grounds & on to Ambrose Lane again, arrows showed the way around the lane’s southeasterly route & then down the zig-zagging Cycle ramp to the Nicky Line.
Mr X ‘Sludged it’ as he accidently took a short cut down the steep steps beside the bridge above the former railway line, missing out the ramp. He was surprised to glance the former line down toward the long loop around to the east where this branch line joined the mainline of the Bed-Pan Line [Bedford to St Pancras – Ed] to see Sludge & the rest down there, especially as most who have been on this route before would know that the Pigs would be up the line in the other direction & behind the Townsend Nurseries.
The Longest stretch of the Trail now lay ahead, the southwest bound route would lead back high over the Luton Road, proving Mr X’s theory of a figure of 8 Trail to be correct! Milf made sure the many dog walkers along this way knew that the White Powder on the floor was Flour for the Hash to follow.
The old Semaphore Railway Signal from the days the Line was in use, was pointed out by Mr X as they were passing by the short platform at Roundwood Halt, he also explained that the line, which opened in1877, was used to transport Straw from the surrounding areas to go to Luton for the making of Hats – Luton’s major industry back in the day. [The RA actually owns a Straw Boater made in Luton! – Ed]
Passenger demand was never high on this branch line, declining during the inter-war years. The rivalry between the Midland & LNWR Railway companies had ensured that the line ultimately failed to serve the people, plus a bus service continued under the LMS had shifted passenger demand away from the railway to road. By the end of 1946 the only regular rail passengers on the Harpenden service were six schoolchildren. The LMS then moved its main goods operation from Hemel Hempstead to Boxmoor, but demand for coal supplies to the Duckhall gasworks that kept the Nickey Line operational.
In the 1930’s it was used to trial Ro-Railers, which was a hybrid system of trucks with a second set of wheels to allow them to run on the rails, but this didn’t take off & its last days saw it transporting House Hold Rubbish, finally leaving the section used by the Hermalite Brick Works to transport goods to Harpenden, on 1 July 1979 the last journey on the line was made by a Hemelite Drewry locomotive which was taken off the tracks at Redbourn.
The Nicky Line was opened as a Cycleway & Footpath in 1985. Back to the Trail & beyond the signal, which was at halt, Milf recalled that the Hash had been on part of the Nicky Line as she approached the information board at junction with other footpaths leading out over the crop & scientific fields of the Rothampstead Estate. Mr X pointed out the free-range pigs through the thick hedgerow in the left-hand tree-line.
Mr X then went on to show a couple out dog walking, how to work the speaking information board, after Milf had explained about the flour. With Kylie not being there they managed to get a go!
Leaving the couple to listen to a story about a 'line side fire' from back in the days of steam, Mr X & Milf were off around the hairpin bend to start on the home leg on the cinder like path of Townsend Lane.
Again Milf recalled this area as the Inn Trail passed by the Townsend Nurseries to emerge out on to the suburban end of Townsend Lane, but it didn’t follow the turn in the road but headed slightly north of due east down Claygate before turning southeastward on to Morton Avenue, at the end of this short road the Trail turned eastward on to Townsend Lane.
The On Inn was found on the way down toward ‘Mallet - Packer Towers’, on the way Mr X pointed out the number of new builds. He said every time the Hash run this part of town in the last 5-6 years, there are lots of homes being rebuilt, either as a huge new place or two new homes!
Back at the On Inn & Mr X had spotted the tin of Mini-Cheddars on the table, he presumed that these were there to lure Sloppy Second in, while his car was still boxed in, all in a bid to keep him in the back garden until he had coughed up his Run fees! However, the Hare & Host was more concerned about the leaky Red Wine making the box go a bit out of shape!
Maid in China came back, as he searched for a Beer he asked if there was more Trail near to the Barbeque area, the RA pointed out that it was a trail of 'Ant powder'!
The Pack enjoyed the now sunny afternoon, talking to the shade as the cool breeze would be misguiding as to how strong the sun was! The GM came & sat in the shade as My Lil' made comments about Gingers burning easily! [Meeoow! – Ed]
TBT OBE made a late entrance, more burgers & sausages were put on the Barbie especially for him. He was late due to his being a marshal at the sailing club that morning. [The things you have to do to try & become Commodore! - Ed] What Ever She Says was a bit disturbed by the talk around under the Gazebo, ask for the subject to be changed to a more cheerful one than Drone Cats, Dead Animals & the Like, but it was he that came out with the worst subject when he mentioned having a non-alcoholic Run! [Wash you mouth put! – Ed]
Meanwhile Sloppy Seconds was seen pacing around the far end of the garden, was he contemplating getting his 200 Run Hat? He also had a close inspection of Tent Packer Shed, Ketchup & Jaron & then Ewok all had a peek in the wooden structure beyond the pond, not that Paxo needs another shed as apparently he has bought another one to make it three in his back-garden.
After a great feast, the burgers were really nice, the Circle was finally called. Ewok was brief with her toast, then it was over to the RA. The Hosts were thanked for a great Trail where everyone was back on the hour, some FRBs slightly under, & new territory was covered.
Crispy Bush was welcomed back, now legal to stay in the UK & all before Brexit - so we can't chuck him out! Maid in China got his Down-Down for mistaking Ant powder for Flour! While Sloppy Seconds had his for falling for the cunning trap of Cheddars & getting Boxes in until he paid up!
Ketchup was impressed when Tent Packer got out his Hooka Pipe & produced smoke like a Steam Train would [Shame Kylie wasn't there! - Ed] but Ketchup couldn't emulate this & only managed a couple of small puffs! [Ooer Pebbledash! - Ed]
The Meeting that was supposed to take place was put off once again, due to the lack of the key people in their field, oh well! Perhaps it was too nice an afternoon to organize anything?