Date = 12th March 2017
Run Number = 1725
Venues = The Crown & The St Alban’s Organ Museum
Location: St Albans
Beer = Goose Purity; Tring Side Pocket for a Toad;
Hares = Mr X
Runners = 25
Virgins = 1
Visitors = 0
Newies = 3
Après = 0
Hounds = 1
Total = 30
Membership = An amazing Birthday Run!
The weather this morning started off as sunny & fine when the Hare set off to lay the Trail, but by his return to the Crown there was a light precipitation in the air. It was damp but never a real threat of rain after the Pack had assembled.
A good turnout was boosted by the arrival of Hedgehog & Little Pair, then there was F3M from Royal South Side Hash in Hong Kong, who had dragged along Ian a virgin Hasher from Berko.
Ewok called for an orderly line to be formed, since a Circle couldn't be accommodated outside of the Crown. The correct Run Number was arrived at, then it was a welcome to the Newies & to find out who they were just in case they went astray following someone errant Herts Hasher like Sludge & needed rounding up later.
Finally the Hare was called forward to let the Pack know what was in store for them out there. Mr X began by saying it would be 'An amazing Trail' which the Pack would understand when they were out on Trail. There were short cuts, care was need as roads needed to be crossed, finally just for My Lil's benefit a CHK was set right outside the front façade of the Pub.
My Lil' managed not to show his frustration as he set off down Camp Road beside the west side of the Pub, all on the descent the Trail did indeed begin on, some may have spotted Dust when parking up down that way. The Pack headed off to the southeast by a local school, the road curved slightly further toward due east to pass under the blue suspension bridge that carries the Alban Way above, a modern replacement for the old brick railway bridge once carried the former Hatfield to St Albans' Railway.
Just beyond the remaining eastern brick bridge station, an arrow directed the Hash up the sharp hairpin turn to lead up the concrete steps to the CHK by the east side of the blue metal bridge. The Hare was pleased to see Porky Pie & Neil run back from the southwest section of the Alban Way after "On!" was called in the opposite direction, as the likes of Alfa Male, Hedgehog, Little pair, F3M, Sparky, No Eye Deer, ARP, Sludge & Wanktlers were all heading up to a T.
An about turn & the Pack were now on their way back over to the west side of the former Railway for a second time, as it runs toward its former termination at St Albans Abbey Station. The six & a half mile branch line opened in 1899 by the Hatfield & St Albans Railway Company, which was soon in debt & then taken over by Great Northern Railways. It closed to passengers in 1951, never profitable & it was used the most during World War II to take workers to the de Havilland aircraft factory. It only lasted until 1969 for freight.
The Keenies passed by the Hare on this west side of the bridge & off they went to run beyond Sanders’ Siding to discover a Bar CHK up in the distance, the siding is now no more but it was originally used by Sanders & Sons to take Orchids from their greenhouses to London, it later became the Salvation Army Halt, where part of the old Platform still remains. Mr X explained later on to Milf that the name change was due to the fact it also led down to the Salvation Army Printing Works, where the likes of ‘The War Cry’ & other religious tomes were produced & then shipped by railway around the World.
Kylie was just at the right place when the Hare marked the Trail off down the short footpath the pack had been led on by, the Trail was now running beside the block of flats with the last unit having all the ground floor windows board up with plywood. This of course led to the usual ‘Billy Bullshit double glazing’ quip from a couple of the more experienced of the Pack.
The Path led out on to Dellfield & from there it turned as My Lil’ led the way over by the small green cross over to see the set of concrete steps at the dead-end of a short cul-de-sac, TBT OBE was fascinated by the Green Corner flag sticking out of a skip in the garden of the last house as he, Skip, Psycho, TBT were just about to start the steep climb up to come out to a CHK by the small Sports ground hut on the level of the plateau.
My Lil’ was gone & out of sight by the time the others had scaled the heights, as My Lil’ headed toward the southwestern exit at the far end of the park, Skip, Psycho & co were heading the correct way over toward the northeastern corner of the park. Meanwhile the Hare was found still standing on the CHK & pointed out to the GM, as she led the Keenies back, that there was an extra bounce about her as she came bobbing up the steps! Of course this led to others waiting to see Milf’s breath-taking venture up the flight of stairs! [Get back to the Run Report you perv! – Ed]
Anyhow, My Lil’ came back from being way over the other side of the Park & he cut across the football pitches to join the rest on the way out to the next CHK on Park View Close, right where it joins Cell Barnes Lane. The Hare was rather surprised, but very pleased, that My Lil’ had joined the majority in heading down Cell Barnes Lane & not realized that he was just across the road from the footpath that he had used on his last Trail along here! The Penny dropped as he saw Wanktlers walk by the post that once had a footpath sign on it.
Over the mini-roundabout junction & on to this alleyway footpath that runs between two of the homes then out through to Springfield Road to the northeast, half way up the T shaped back street was the next CHK. Alfa Male went off to the northern dead end arm & down the opposite alleyway, meanwhile My Lil’ had chosen pass by the scattered rubbish of plastic skylight panels as he took to the wide cycleway heading away southeastward & the Trail resumed.
On the way by the local allotments to the north, the Pack would get to see school boy graffiti of a large comedy cock spray-painted on the tarmac, as they laughingly ran over this, Ewok & Psycho said it was lucky that Pebbledash wasn’t there, which was true as further along was another one but this time attached to a cartoon man who if this was the correct anatomical proportions would never be able to ride a bike or walk very far.
The trail followed the gentle curve, passing through a hedgerow & then on to a CHK where the landscaped paving has a raised hedgerow with wooden sections of trunks along the edge, Sparky followed the lower of the two parallel paths either side of the flower bed, but both would join back up within a few yards. The joined up path would come out to the crossroads where it divides north & south sections of the Windermere Avenue from Traffic. There a CHK was found.
Sludge, My Lil’ & Tent Packer were among the majority who were soon off away to the east into the next section of elongated parkland but they were soon called back a Wanktlers found the Trail heading northward up Windermere Avenue, a part of the more established homes in the Camp area of St Albans. It derives its name from the fact that it was once home to a Roman Army Camp in the days when St Albans was known as Verulamium.
Up the tree-lined side street & the Pack were back on to Camp Road, at this T-junction was an OM CHK, for Organ Museum, which the Hare pointed out was down to the left between a bus shelter & a school was the Museum & parking would be best on Windermere Avenue for the visit later on.
The Trail was picked up away from the museum to run a short way down Camp Road, then an arrow directed the Hash off down the very short, but delightfully named Liberty Lane to the south, in the elbow of this short enclosed little area was a gap that led through to the parkland behind. Once through this the Keenies would see the SCBs making their way through to the east end of the park & on to a CHK at the edge of Drakes Lane.
It didn’t take the Keenies long to get across this & on to the footpath on the opposite the crossing, this gritty capped route lead on through a wooded strip that gently weaved it’s way emerge out to another green space & as this wider path arced around, an arrow was found which directed the Hash in to the ‘Hazel Maze’, with a carved thunderbird totem in the centre. Even though this ‘Amazing’ part of the Trail is all of about two & a half feet tall [Enough for Ewok to see over! – Ed] ARP, Louise, Neil, Milf, Hedgehog, Little Pair, F3M, Tent Packer, Sludge, My Lil’ all managed to find their way around without too much effort, the Hare really enjoyed seeing the Pack going around in all different directions, turning this way & that but all finding their way out.
Apart from Ewok who at one point was on bended knees appeared as if she was only peering over the top of the hedge, the biggest laugh came when Porky Pie became isolated from the rest of the scattered Pack who were leaving him behind. He was flummoxed, there was even more laughter & derision as he went up an outside path to find it ended abruptly, even though the hedge had a few gaps in it, he wouldn’t give up & eventually he made his way out to collect his sweet, as this was also a sweet stop.
My Lil’ was eager to get on with things as Lofty, Henry & 2-1-2 Maureen with Paxo came along, they too got their sweets, as the Hash Beer led the way over to Hill End Lane where a CHK was found on the cycle route which is set slightly back from the road, this fooled a few to search in either direction on the road, but the real Trail was found over the crossing & on to the footpath that starts off by the north end of the football pitches on Hill End park.
As the Trail kept to the main path along the top end of this part nature reserve & part park, Mr X explained to No Eye Deer that this was the second of the Mental institutions that used to be in this area of St Albans, the other being Cell Barnes. Hill End Hospital was built in 1899 in 184 acres of grounds. An extension was built in 1907 & in the 1920’s 82 acres of Cell Barnes, adjoining Hill End came on to the market. It was purchased by Hertfordshire County Council for a “Colony for mental defectives” to be run in conjunction with Hill End.
It was also where Sis did some of her training, the Hospital eventually closed in 2000 but some 60 odd acres of park remains for the Public to enjoy, while the rest made up the new housing estates. Continuing through Highfield Park, where there were plenty of pooches our being walked as the Hash passed by the large stately like House, then the hedged in gardens of remembrance for the patients who died while residing there.
As the Trail made its way through the reaming trees of the former orchards of the Hospital Farm that the ‘patients once worked on, Mr X told of a joint Run with Cambridge many years ago, at a time when the hospital was being shut down & 'Care in the Community' was beginning. On that rainy day the Hash passed by a solitary soaked figure a large elderly gent, some presumed to be a former resident, who was vacantly clutching a teddy, it was all rather sad.
The Trail came out of the orchard to a CHK on Hixberry Lane, an uncapped route up from Tyttenhanger away behind the fields in the southeast. A short way to the northwest where the uncapped lane joins the tarmac of the residential Hill End Lane again, the Trail led to a CHK on the Alban Way the road dissects the cycleway, Kyle was impressed at the new addition to this former level crossing point, for some restoration work has been under way & there are now two pairs of white wooden five bar gates of a railway style, that are permanently set ajar to prevent motor traffic getting on there but allow pedestrian & cycle access.
The Dust was picked up on the level former railway as it heads westward, some like Milf & Ewok could not resist a chance to clamber upon the former railway platform on the left, this was Hill End Halt for the County Mental Hospital, the platform has been restored & it looks like they are doing something with that as well, perhaps flower beds like the halt down at Ellenbrook in Hatfield?
Not far beyond this point a CHK was found by a footpath leading northward in to Longacres, this rouse didn't fool many as the Trail continued a short way along the Alban Way to where an arrow pointed the way for the FRBs to clamber up the wooded embankment & enter the southeastern corner of Longacres Playing Fields, there the next CHK was found.
As the Keenies began an anti-clockwise run around the perimeter of the park to the opposite northwest corner, the Hare marked the way for Whatever She Says, My Lil', Paxo, 2-1-2 Maureen, Psycho, Lofty & Skip to stick with the Alban way & pass under the bridge that carries Ashley Road high above the old Great Northern Railway's route.
The Keenies left the park & out through a back street, then at the T junction followed the Dust southward along Ashley Road, crossing sides on the traffic island on the apex of the bridge to take to footpath that runs down the embankment to the Alban Way again, at the end of this loop was the last Held CHK of the Trail.
Once 2-1-2 Maureen was in sight, & Little Pair with No Eye Deer had made it down from the bridge, the Pack were allowed to continue westward the fairly short way to where the north-south Sutton Road crossed the line’s oold route. A CHK would be found by the start of the next section of the Alban Way by the bit of a ‘pinch point’ where it narrows & cyclist are asked slow down.
Porky Pie & Neil again led the way back along the former line, the Hare was pleased by this sight as they ran by the open gate into the local Morrison’s car park, for the Keenies were about to fall for one last trick as they found a Bar CHK further up the line.
The Hare had just enough flour left to mark a one last arrow pointing into the car park, so Paxo, TBT OBE, Lofty & Henry, 2-1-2 Maureen were up with the FRBs as they began crossing the parking space to make their way out on to Hatfield Road, though Whatever She Says had to be brought around from over by the petrol station to the main route out. Unfortunately for Milf & Ewok the Fire Engine that was there when the Hare went around had now moved on, so no Hunky Firemen for them to ogle!
Once on Hatfield road the Trail headed westward & the On Inn was found by the Headquarters of CAMRA, which ironically doesn't have a Bar. Milf said that she'd have thought Brewers would have sent Ales there to be tasted? Sadly not! It was now that a light drizzle started.
Beyond the ornate gate-houses & wrought-iron gates for the local cemetery entrance, the Pack were soon back at the Crown, just as the drizzle turned to proper rain. Inside the warm dry bar Sparky had started already tab to celebrate his Birthday with a free pint on him! Which was more than generous of him & George considering the good turnout.
2-1-2 Maureen was presented with a copy of the now infamous latest edition of the quarterly 'spoons magazine that H4 appeared in to mark her 80th Birthday, almost 6 months earlier! Which upon reading had her say "Oh, they have printed my age!"
When it came to the circle the Pack sheltered from the rain by squeezing beneath one of the large table umbrellas in the patio garden. The GM grabbed a chair to stand on to make herself seen & heard above the raucous Pack. Ewok announced the Toast to the Hash, then went on to say she would give the Hare one! [What in front of the Pack! Luckily Pebbledash wasn't there! - Ed] Mr X gladly accepted this, only to discover the offer only referred to a pint! However he was presented with a Royal South Side patch by F3M, which he already has one of as he had been out to Hong Kong for the ‘Sun Set on the Empire’ weekend.
It was noticed that the Curate was not around for the consecutive circle where he should have 'held Court'. It was also rumoured that Sloppy Seconds was doing a Run report for the previous week’s Trail [That’ll go nicely for the one from last year he’s still working on! – Ed] So, Mr X stepped up as 'Normal Service' was resumed.
Firstly there were the Birthdays of Sparky & George, as well as Porky Pie to be celebrated, Porky Pie could have also been out several more times, for lost property of the hat the RA was wearing, for asking for a magnum of Champagne when the RA offered to buy him a drink, as well as get stuck in a kids’ maze! These two were joined by F3M who was also celebrating a Birthday! Must have been a lot of couples celebrating something special or on holiday in June! Porky was given back his trolley-dolly hat, a champagne cork wrapper but no bottle with it.
The remaining two Newbies of Hedgehog & Little Pair plus the Ian the Virgin were up next, then No Eye Deer for being last week’s Hare, which there wasn’t time to awarded due to the Quiz, where on H3 Team came Second & the other not even a mention!
Wanktlers was out for his Decca Run with Herts. Skip was called forward as the RA produced a small tub of an individual serving of Marmalade that he had picked up at Lenny Henry's [PremierInn] the weekend before, telling story of how after Paxo's 60th there were none available in the Ware Premierinn & Skip was not a happy Paddington. Then what happened next changed the RA's mind as to who was going to be awarded the Hashit, for what was about to follow shocked those regulars in the know, for as they began to move away as Skip slowly spun around to launch his unfinished Down-Down & then it happened, a sudden collective gasp......silence......then a medusa stare look daggers at him from under the now wet serpentine like tangle of Psycho’s now drenched head, & a phone she was trying to capture the moment for prosperity on! The roar of laughter went on for ages as Skip desperately tried to wriggle out of the situation! It wasn't going to happen!
The Pack went in for one last quick pint before setting off for the Organ Museum, there was time for a bit of Skip-baiting while still in the Pub.
The Hash were pretty surprised at what lay in store at the museum, the working items range from musical boxes, pianolas, Wurlitzer's but stars were the larger ‘Dance Organs’ that are card fed with punched holes that make the organs play & the instruments on them move in time with the tune
Before the interval the volunteers were asking after Sparky, for they were going to get the Mortier to play ‘Happy Birthday’ but on his way from having gone home to change & picking up the sandwiches, it suddenly dawned on Sparky that he hadn’t paid off his Bar Tab! So he had to go back to the Crown & sort that out before arriving at the venue in time for the second half, after the tea break.
‘Happy Birthday’ was played when he & the other two Birthday boys’ (Two Civilians) were all present, the other treats were the ‘Thunderbirds Theme’ popular with most present, played on the Th (Theofiel) Mortier of Antwerp, for Max Factor it was the 78 disc of ‘The Teddy Bears Picnic’ on a gramophone with a huge Horn [Whoa there Pebbledash! – Ed] as she was seen rocking away as she sang along to an original BBC Recording of the song! For Mr X it was ‘Delilah’ on the Decap, Jeanneke. The finale was from the largest of them all, ‘England’s Pride’, which is again is a Decap from Antwerp
But to be honest all of these marvels of engineering, craftsmanship & design are well worth the visit. Everyone was impressed at the collection, the treat of hearing this wonderful machines, as well as learning some interesting facts.
There were more treats when the General Public went, for the volunteers stayed on so the Pack could now tuck in to the Trays of mixed Sandwiches, pork pies, scotched eggs, quiches in a quantity that could have feed four time as many! There were also other edible additions, like TBT OBE offering up his Cheesy Balls [Try & hold it in Pebbledash! – Ed]
Just to add that little extra to the veritable massive feast Sparky had supplied, Psycho had made a cake of George, a theme that ran to Sparky’s Birthday Card! There was plenty of laughter as she & Skip uncovered this large phallic pink, wrinkly cake, of course all the men cringed & many looked away as she set about it with a knife, Mr X said she was getting practice in for that evening when she gets Skip home! It was like being at a bris & heaven only knows what the civilian volunteers thought of it all?
Some asked if it was cake was modelled on a life like size, but surely not as Sparky would have a strange gait & he would be pulled forward by the weight when he runs………
Some like Kylie took whole trays home, so we know what he’ll be eating on his shift eating during the week. Others were now bloated, Mr X thought he was going to be ‘egg-bound’ as Sparky insisted on him eating more mini-scotch eggs, when he had already had a load! Unlike Mr Creosote, he really couldn’t manage a “Waff-er thin mint?”
The cake was excellent, & the Hash offered this & sandwiches to the volunteers, who give up their own time to keep this fantastic little hidden gem going. If you weren’t there, then we suggest you go along & see this & help toward their fund for the restoration that took place on the Jeanneke.