Date = 26th February 2017
Run Number = 1723
Venues = Our Mutual Friend
Beer = Oakham; Harvey’s; & a couple of others.
Hares = My Lil’
Runners = 25
Virgins = 0
Visitors = 0
Newies = 0
Après = 0
Hounds = 1
Total = 26
Membership = Polite Bureau trip to Silkingrad!
A mild morning greeted the Hash as they circled up outside of Our Mutual Friend, in the background ‘the sound of Silkengrad [Stevenage. – Ed] could be heard as a Police siren wailed away through the streets of the UK’s first New Town.
When it came to the GM’s introductions there was a slight hiatus as she had to think about what the Run Number was, but her guess was confirmed by Mr X. Ewok mentioned it was the 7th anniversary of Goose’s passing, & also about the time that another departed Herts Hasher, Grunter got more than a bit tipsy at Our Mutual Friend & fell over several times on his way home [He was not alone in being unsteady on his pins that day! – Ed]!
It was swiftly over to the Hare & as My Lil’ stepped forward which forced Ewok to let slip an “Oh dear, it’s you!” Something that the rest of the Pack were probably thinking? Anyhow, the Hare’s brief was pretty short, starting with the obvious fact that there would be roads to cross, there was one bit aimed at Sludge when the Hare mentioned that there would be a Held CHK that was worth holding!
The Hare directed the Hash away down St Margaret’s Road, off went Sparky sounding his horn & then suddenly changing direction as he realised that there was a large arrow across the junction for a spur road o fthe same name. The Trail led through a couple of back streets of two back to back spur roads firstly St Margaret’s & then using a cut-through to Broad Oak Way, ignoring the alleyway footpaths between the two.
On the way down this south bound route the sound of Sparky’s Horn & the calling of “On!” from the FRBs awoke some of the locals & one door opened to reveal a sight of one woman in a dressing gown, who was in need of her ‘beauty sleep’ as she was wearing a full face-pack that made her look like the angry version of The Hulk!
The Keenies were soon on their way down to the Roebuck area of Town, Sloppy Seconds & Mr X were lucky enough not to be up with the likes of Alfa Male, Max Factor, Lemming, Mother, Sludge, Ewok & Milf as they made their way on to a Bar CHK, as they saw the Hare mark the way back up Turpins Rise & then off down through to the long stretch of nature reserve that the Stevenage Brook runs through beside London Road.
A CHK was found by on the Tarmac path through the scrubby reserve, at a point where a meandering desire line runs through the grassy edge on a diverging route. While Sparky searched the nor-nor-west tarmac route, No Eye Deer found the real Trail off of the main route.
There was some deft short cutting by Sparky & those following on behind him when they realised that they were not on the correct path. On the way along the correct route, Mr X spotted a reusable shopping bag hanging from one of the immature trees, Lemming surmised that this was probably full of dog poop-bags, however he didn't go over to investigate this & back up his claims.
At the junction with a path down from the east over the scrubby woodland to the exit of the tarmac path on to London Road another CHK was found. From here Sparky went wrong while Mr X choose the Trail on the correct path up through the woodland of the reserve as it stretches to the northeast. At the top of the gentle slope two benches were found, one new metal one & the other a sofa like one was a uniquely cut out of a large tree-trunk.
Up by the tarmac footpath that runs behind St Margaret's Road there is a memorial for someone who committed suicide there, looking back beyond the old bouquet of flowers tied to this it’s a shame to look down over a scene of the woodland just strewn with old cans, bottles & litter, most of which is alcohol related.
From the CHK amongst the trashy open-space Sparky made up for his earlier faux-pas as he picked up the Trail to follow the muddy path around to the wide track that leads out beside the southern side of Stevenage football club. Formally known as ‘Stevenage Borough’ but that was dropped a few years ago.
Passing by the Football club's bar entrance, the Trail led out on to the cycleway/footpath running along below Broadhall way A602 below the southern end of the Roaring Meg retail estate. The Trail would lead along this to head under the roundabout where Monk's Way joins the other main arterial route.
A CHK was found in the open centre of the Roundabout, which didn't hold many up as on the northern side of the roundabout an earthen path worn in to the grassy embankment saw the Keenies scaling this to enter the southern end of Monks Wood.
Milf wondered what the green leaves of the plants carpeting the woodland floor where, they're Bluebells which in a few weeks’ time will brighten up the area, disguising some of the abandoned litter that is probably due its annual cull. Among the cast-off bottles, cans & other food related wrappings there were other abandoned things that may have reinforced Ewok's belief that this is a 'Dogging' spot, Prince Garmin would later say that he saw various prophylactics scattered in the woodland! Lobby Lobster, acting as the ‘Hash Agony Aunt’ would have a chat with him about these later on!
The Pack were presented with a CHK within the bottom of the woodland, Sludge was now convinced that the Trail would head northeastward through the wood behind the homes & up toward Whomerley Wood, he as wrong. It took some loud calling to get Sludge to stop & turn back to follow the rest out of the wood, taking to the Monkswood Way & northward toward the centre of Silkingrad.
There was a delay for some as they were held up by the lights at the junction on Monkswood Way for the college & hypermarket. Ewok, Ketchup, Mr X & Milf were stuck on the wrong side of the lights. Ewok was tempted to cross but Mr X did want to play chicken here & pointed out the flowers tied to the safety railings for when a young girl died there when a Red Light was run by a Mercedes. As if to enforce this a boy racer in his suped-up little hacthbacl raced away as the lights went green.
Those around Mr X now heeded this advice, finally after what seemed an age for the light lights to change, their progression among the cycleway/footpath could resume on the western side. The FRBs were now out of sight, having followed the Dust around from the north to the west bound continuation of the path at the junction with Six Hills way.
After a short trot the Trail would change back to a northbound direction by the entrance in to the Hypermarket, now it passed beneath Six Hills Way & in to the urban concrete jungle of the shopping centre of Silkingrad, this pedestrianized town centre was the first purpose-built traffic-free shopping zone in Britain, The RA said that you had to admire some of the things the Queen Elizabeth II has had to undertake in her reign, as she officially opened this in 1959.
Although revolutionary for its time, the town centre is showing signs of age, in 2005 plans were revealed for a major regeneration but these were shelved with the recession. Though the stacks of bricks, cordons & signposts all point to some kind of redevelopment happening now.
The Trail ran by the clock tower which resembles an old square water tank upon four legs & ornamental pool that features Joyride, a mother & child sculpture by Franta Belsky. The RA then went on to tell the tale of when the New Town’s construction was proposed & the locals staged a protest at the olld Railway Station, holding up banners saying “Welcome to Silkingrad!” for when Lewis Silkin arrived at the railway station as they feared that the New Town would resemble that of a post war Soviet town.
The obstinate Silkin told 3,000 people outside the town hall (around half the town's residents): "It's no good your jeering, it's going to be done." Despite the hostile reaction to Silkin, & a referendum of 52% 'entirely against' the expansion, the plan went ahead. Ironically, although the Commission for the New Towns [set up in1963] declared the Old Town would not be touched, the first significant building to be demolished was the Old Town Hall!
Well, you can make your own minds up if the protesters fears were not realized in the construction of something that resembles an Eastern-Bloc post war town? Anyhow back to the Hash…….
A Held CHK was found By the local MacDonald’s, already inside the corner fast food outlet were the Hare, Alfa Male, Max Factor, Where's Wally? who were queuing up for a free hot drink on the coffee-bean collection cards.
Standing outside of the Maccie D's there was talk of some getting the Bus back, Lemming was impressed that Mr X said that the SB5 goes from the bus terminus by the takeaway, he was even more impressed when Mr X said both he & My Lil' had been in the Wetherspoons' at the opposite end of the terminus before they got that very Bus with Lobby Lobster, Ketchup & Prince Garmin to the Pub.
Sloppy Seconds wasn’t for staying for a cuppa, which stunned a few that he’d turn down a free drink!! Lofty waited outside with Henry for a while, but they too moved on while the rest were still queuing to be served. It was worth it as the hot chocolate was rather good & rather popular, though lots of people do say that Maccie D's coffee is always highly rated!
Ewok & Lobby Lobster were concerned about Prince Garmin’s whereabouts, but he was being looked after by others of the Pack & was already in the burger bar, Ewok then wondered where Paxo was? The RA said that he was probably in the local Adult Sex Store? But Paxo would eventually appear with Skip.
Suddenly there was a slight panic in the Burger Bar when Lobby Lobster realized her glasses were now missing from where she had hung them over her cleavage, the RA said Milf wouldn’t have lost them if she kept hers there. [Lobby Lobster ought to get a pair of the old ‘Larry Grayson’s’! – Ed]
It was pointed out the area around the bus stops had everything going for it, three Bookies, a casino, Mecca bingo, three bars including a ‘Spoons, a pawn brokers & a gadget exchange shop, Mr X then lamented that it was only missing the late ‘Ted the Grass’ [The Edward the Confessor Pub– Ed!] which is no more.
When things resumed for the Pack, the Hash would now be strung out in small groups departing the fast-food outlet at various times, this would be the status quo for the rest of the Trail, as the Hash made its way out of the Shopping arcades via Market Square.
Alfa Male & Max Factor walked this bit, no doubt impressed by the original New Town model that Harlow would follow, as the Trail ran down steps to underpass beneath St George's Way to come out up Cuttys Lane, next to the Stevenage Museum. A turn to the north on a short trot up Silam Road before the Trail changed to nor-nor-west on to a path into Town Centre Gardens with its small dog-leg lake & out on to a CHK by the play area.
The CHK was marked, since the Hare was well up with the FRBs & the Trail would leave the park to cross over Silam Road again before passing under a 60's architect’s take on a coaching Inn entrance where the concrete floor of two bedrooms span the wide paved access way below, Mr X said that these rooms must need some heating with the cold wind that was blowing through?
On to Plash Drive, here the sign had Milf stopping for a second look at the name, there was no need as the Trail looped back around to this again as it headed southward. As the Trail progressed down to cross Cuttys Lane again & then on down Homestead Moat Mr X gave Milf a bit of a History Lesson on the origins of Stevenage as they caught up with Lofty.
Mr X added that the New Town’s first 'new' public house was named after local notorious identical-twin poachers (Albert Ebenezer & Ebenezer Albert Fox) which says a lot! The Twin Foxes Pub is still there to this day.
The Trail would only lead a short way along the main road before turning off in to run through Whomerley Wood, here Prince Garmin & Ketchup were passed in this area Sludge was heading toward at the beginning of the Trail.
Moving on through the Shiggy paths to emerge out of Millennium Wood on to the southern section of Fairland’s Valley, which each year is voted Stevenage's best feature by its residents. As the Keenies made their way down in to the green vale that is popular with the local dog-walkers, Mr X said to Milf that on the north side of the road was a large lake, play areas & café but it was too far to go around this popular part of Fairland’s Valley Park.
Little did the other FRBs know that they would be unaware that Sludge's Short Cutting Radar' must have had a serious malfunction, for he led Mother around the northern lake side of Fairland’s Valley, perhaps he mistook the wildfowl guano as Hash Markings? Mother was not happy to be led away on this Wild Goose Chase!
Once across the vale the Trail would rise up through the woodland, passing the fenced off Scout centre that sits above a deep wooded dell, Milf said that this looked the like the type of place she would like to go around as it had a zip-wire amongst the outdoor activities there.
Now on a tarmac path Milf & Mr X encountered a woman who had lost one of her pooches, she was frantically calling it back but as the two Hashers would see the pooch had chased a squirrel up a tree in the adjacent woodland by Shackleton Spring, it was far more enthralling for the hound than going back to its owner.
The Trail turned on to a narrower path between two hedgerows as it ran by the playing fields behind the Valley School, for another week the Hash would witness a soccer game that involved Where's Wally? United. [Who are this team? - Ed] If only Where's Wally? had his red & white striped top back from being embroidered with the Herts Hash Logo from our Haberdasher, he could have had a quick kick around!
The Trail emerged on Broadwater way & then via the subway roundabout to find the On Inn on the exit ramp where a fallen tree had been cut up, it now rose up opposite the service station & Pub.
Once changed there was talk of a round of chips to warm the Pack, but unfortunately this failed to come to fruition when the Barmaid had a change of heart in cooking so many portions, so instead a fair few bags of crisps were purchased to stave off the hunger pangs created by the thought of the afore mentioned chips.
Meanwhile there was lots of talk about Lobby Lobster’s missing spectacles, which miraculously just happened to suddenly appear in her bag in the back of the car it was left in, seems that they hadn’t really gone that far!
Some asked about the name of Our Mutual Friend, this reflects the fact that Charles Dickens knew Stevenage as he was often a guest of Lord Lytton at Knebworth House. In 1861 Dickens commented of Stevenage, "The village street was like most other village streets: wide for its height, silent for its size, and drowsy in the dullest degree. The quietest little dwellings with the largest of window-shutters to shut up nothing as if it were the Mint or the Bank of England." [It hasn’t changed one bit then! – Ed]
The Circle was called outside, though there were requests to stay in the warm, but with Whatever She Says! arriving after the Trail & having not gone around, he was exempt from the proceedings & so he remained inside to keep an eye on the Hash Gear.
The Hare was rewarded for a good Trail, with a much appreciated warm drink stop! Skip was out for starting to drive to Letchworth before his passenger, Sludge, corrected him. Skip could have got an SB bus to the venue if he started off in the right frame of mind.
Sludge & Mother were out for their 'Long Cut' & the disclosure of one of them was wearing XXXL pants - in Hong Kong sizes!
Lobby Lobster was let off her Hit for the incident with the missing specs, Ketchup was not so lucky after his fun & games after drinking 14% beer at the Beerfest he & My Lil' attended the day before, where he ended up with two pints of this brew when a guy at the table took one sip & didn't like it but offered it to Ketchup, who didn't look this gift horse in the mouth! Also he couldn't recall getting home, or how he got the gash on his head!!
A few remained to watch the first half of the Rugby, tough Italy didn’t seem to want to play in the spirit of the game, thought there was nothing in the Laws to stop them from not contesting at the Ruck. This wasn’t the only thing that stunk as Prince Garmin let a real choker rip
Milf & Kylie suddenly appeared at the window by the Hash Table, both eagerly scoffing a Gregg’s pie bought from the service station. Which made Lobby Lobster feel hungry, so with Ketchup & Prince Garmin they got the bus back to the Wetherspoons’ for some nosh. Mr X, My Lil’ & Sparky would met them there at Half Time for the second half.