Date = 11th March 2018
Run Number = 1786
Venue = The Cross Keys
Location = Harpenden
Beer = Tim Taylor Landlord; Tring Side pocket; Marlow Rebellion
Hares = Tent packer
Runners = 6
Virgins = 0
Visitors = 0
Newies = 0
Après = 2
Hounds = 2
Total = 10
Membership = Happy Half dozen on a half marathon!
As is the case this time of year, Mother’s Day takes preference over the Hash, though one mother was there & she was bereft of any complements for the day, Paxo tried to make it up but Ewok said she thought that the whole thing was a rip-off anyway, as she said for the normal £5 bunch of Red Roses in supermarkets were suddenly £10 for this weekend!
Anyhow, the town was buzzing, not just with the normal ‘God-botherers’ but the local Sainsbury’s hadn’t opened yet & there was a long queue of men trying to salvage their fate by getting a Mother’s Day card & gift! Mr X, My Lil’ & Lola weaved their way through this throng to arrive at the Cross Keys just as Sparky came around the corner. Sparky was quick to point out that the Pub’s address is 39 High Street, not as he claimed as 29 advertised on the Hare-line! [Anyone with an older Trash out there please check Hare-line as I did, it says 39! - Ed] None of which is relevant when there is a large sign on the High Street with the Cross Keys of St Peter on it!
At least there was a Pack of three to head out on the Trail! [Steady there Pebbledash! – Ed] Tent Packer turned up, & as if in a rehearsal for his excuses at the Trail’s ‘Chalk-Talk’ he tried to explain what had gone wrong with his planned route.
Mr X tapped his watch to indicate it had passed ‘My Lil’ o’clock’ as the late arriving JM & GM managed to cross over the busy main road, they suggested giving it a few minutes more, but by five past the hour it was clear that there probably wouldn’t be any more arriving. The Circle was now called! Ewok admitted that she looked up the Run Number on the way, so she had to get it right………………she was correct.
Tent Packer stepped forward to again put forward the reasons that this is “Not the best Trail I have ever set!” as he went on to reveal that his original plan was scuppered as a footpath he wanted to use was closed, as it was being professional cleared of the overgrown branches, brambles & other encroaching fauna. Then, after that set back, he discovered that one reason this was a busy day in Harpenden was the fact that the Harpenden Half Marathon was taking place as he was trying to set the Trail!
With all of the possible obstacles & hindrances pointed out, the Trail began quite sedately by turning off of the High Street & heading eastward through the service road from the car park, where earlier Sparky had parked up in & frightened the bejasus out of Lola by setting his car alarm off when opening the door [If only he could go to the expense of buying a new battery for his key fob instead of using the key! – Ed]
The Trail left the shops behind & headed up to the residential Bowers Way, there on the T junction was the first CHK of the day, being the first to this point Mr X would cross straight over to the alleyway footpath as he was tempted in clambering the steep set of steps up to the bridge spanning the ‘Bed-Pan line’. [Bedford to St Pancras Line! – Ed] Having clambered up the steps & crossed the footbridge, the RA was disappointed to see a T at the bottom of the descending stairs!
Everyone else was now heading a few degrees off of due north up Bowers Way to find a CHK where the very end of this road turned slight more to the west, it was along here that the Hare pointed out that Count Jean de Voilement once lived around here & Tent Packer pondered why there was no Blue Plaques to indicate this, though buried under that name in St Nicholas Church yard, he did not exist.
It was an alias used by an officer in the French army of the Third Republic, Major Ferdinand Esterhazy, the central figure in the Dreyfus Affair. What polarised France was the guilt or innocence of a Jewish French Army captain, Alfred Dreyfus. In 1894, he fell under the suspicion of officials trying to find the leak of military secrets being passed to the Germans. He was convicted of treason after damning evidence was produced, all in a time of anti-Semitism in France
The novelist Emile Zola published a damning news piece entitled ‘J’accuse,’ blaming the High Command for falsely convicting Dreyfus, & by August 1898 it was clear that evidence against Dreyfus had been forged, the military had been involved in a cover-up & in fact Major Esterhazy had spied for Germany. Now an embarrassment to the French Army High Command & the government, Esterhazy was allowed to flee to England. He once dined with Oscar Wilde who described him as ‘a charmer, elegant, distinctive womaniser.’ Esterhazy was in debt, disgraced & now in permanent exile from his homeland.
Back to the Trail…..
Having reached the T junction with the east to west Sun Lane, Mr X saw Ewok, My Lil’ & Sparky all heading westward down the hill, so instinctively he checked out in the opposite direction from Sparky! Sparky looked back & seen the RA heading away from him, so he called out that there was a T before the brick railway bridge! However, Mr X could plainly see flour over on the steps by the northern side of the bridge & as he got closer to the brick edifice he could see that there was a spray painted line with a curved tail from it that was clearly street markings for a utilities firm of the Railway which Sparky had misconstrued, unless it was left over from one of TBT OBE’s permanently marked Trail?
Mr X called “On!” as he crossed over the road to disappear on the descent down the metal steps on the Nicky Way, on his way down he heard a strange shuddering noise that at first made him think it was the metal steps, but looking around he saw it was a cyclist walking his bike down & as he applied his brakes it made an echoing judder through the structure.
Safely down on the former Harpenden to Rebourn Railway, the Dust would follow the bend in the old line to change from northward to a southwestward direction, the rest of the Pack, well other five, would follow on as they began a nice sheltered section of Trail.
Arriving at a CHK by a set of steps up to the bridge for Ambrose Lane above the line, Mr X saw Dust heading further long the old rail line & to him this seemed to be far too close to be the real Trail, so he started his way up the flight of steps & after reaching the summit he found a T on the road bridge!
Back on the Nicky Way & My Lil’, Lola & Ewok had caught up, My Lil said he had no idea where Sparky had gone as he hadn’t come down the steps at the start of this cycleway/footpath route! The Trail continued along the level, which meant that the Pack would cross over the bridge that spans the Luton Road, it’s quite a drop down in this valley the Luton road follows, a few looked out over to the south but the Cross Keys could not be seen in the not-so-far-off distance as it lurks just around the bend in the road.
The Trail continued by the steps down the embankment next to Luton Road, then it moved on as the old line begins a climb up a gradient that would have been a struggle for some of the Trains that used this line to transport the straw for Hats that were made in Luton. On the way the smell of burning coal wafted through the air & Mr X said that Kylie would have loved this Trail, the smell of coal on an old railway line!
Reached the part when the Line levels out, strangely enough where the former level crossing was, there double arrows pointing the way out on to Park Hill road, Sparky took the lead as he ran over the elbow in the road where it becomes Roundwood Park. Mr X followed on but was suddenly stopped in his tracks when Sparky came to a halt & came back indicating it was a Bar CHK ahead! The Hare emerged out from the Nicky Way to head toward these two, Mr X then realized that Sparky ought to get down to Specsavers!
Running back up toward the footpath that leads westward behind the local school, there behind a green street furniture box was a blob of flour that had been kicked, the resulting line, in Sparky’s eyes (but no one else’s) resembled a Bar CHK. On beyond this & the Trail took to the alleyway footpath that leads out beside the school grounds on it southern flank, Ewok’s coughing reminded Mr X of one of Kylie’s steam trains, but she thought that she sounded more like Sid James!
The Tail came out to the only Held CHK of the Trail, located in the corner of the recreation ground. Wine Gums or Sours were the choice as those gathered around awaited Paxo to catch up, for Paxo it was going to be a lonely Trail as there were no other’s from the regular knitting Circle, nor anyone with a serious hangover to keep him company.
Eventually the Hare let the Pack (All four of them) search again & only Sparky was keen on heading Northward toward the Sports fields that had football matches in action. Meanwhile Mr X took the other option & he was followed by My Lil’, Lola & Ewok, all chose to head away along the edge of the small green area of Dellafield to head southwestward & then southward back around to the Nicky Way once again.
Sparky was called back & on his way toward the Held CHK he found he had a companion running alongside of him, in the guise of a black staffie – My Lil’ said the hound was probably exited at the prospect of the wrapped bones moving along by him?
Mr X searched down the gravel track of Townsend Lane, spurred on when My Lil suggested that there could be a ‘Beer Stop’ at the Nursery? Sadly for Mr X there would only be a T around the bend in the track, so he came back to find the rest were now heading southward on the path into the Rothampstead Estate, toward the section of farm land called Sawyers to the west of Harpenden.
The Trail was now heading on to a part of the course for the Harpenden Half Marathon took, except it would be in the opposite direction as a left hand turn led the Hash along the hedgerow on the southern side of Sawyers. Along the way Mr X looked over at the hedgerow for Townsend Lane & realized if he hadn’t have run back to the CHK he could have ‘Sludged-it’ & cut across the ploughed Sawyers field!
Mr X did stop as he took a picture of the wooden ‘Harpenden Half
marathon’ sign with its ornate hand painted lettering to direct the Marathon
Runners, there’s money around these parts! The Trail turned around from the
eastward direction back toward Harpenden on a really Shiggy path, that had
consistency of which made
worse more fun by plenty of marathon shoes.
However, the old Hash boots kept going well as the Shiggy deepened as the path turned southward between the estate hedgerow for Long Hoos & the back of the homes to the east. The Trail came out on to Rothampstead Park, heading eastward on to the recreation ground arriving at its northeastern corner, there a CHK was found.
While My Lil’ headed out toward the Pavilion directly over to the east, Sparky disappeared southward down along the line of trees where he actually found the Trail! The astonished Hare pointed out the small triangles of card on little stakes in the ground that marked out the circuit the Half Marathon would take.
Down in to the small valley & then the Trail passed by the old sheep dip to come up to the area where the Half Marathon finish line was, the Bales of Hay marking the finish line were of concern to Ewok that they had been Health & Safety checked as it looked a bit rickerty! But who cares as the Herts Hashit had bene around a part of the course.
While the remains of the race water & trash was being cleared up by the organizers, the Hash passed through the finish point to find a CHK on Coach Lane, that runs from Rothampstead House way over in the west to this point where it intersect two other footpaths.
Mr X went wrong as he thought the Trail would just simply run out through the Park via the main gates, instead My Lil’ picked up the Trail on the footpath section of Coach Lane as this headed eastward & down the enclosed Shiggy route behind the tennis courts on the left & small industrial estate to the right.
At the end of the descent the Shiggy dried up, then after coming out by the solitary cottage & looking northward, Mr X was tempted to head up by the Silver Cup in respect of the days of Shambler, but he didn’t pay homage to an old ex-Herts Hasher & instead followed on as the Trail crossed straight over the South Common.
Mr X had to wait for a break in the traffic to get across the busy St Albans Road, long enough to see the rest head over to the wooded area down in the dell where the Southdown Ponds dwell, he well knew that the Dust would come in by the Harpenden Arms, so cut out this little loop around the small nature reserve, a fact that My Lil’ was very keen & quick on mentioning when they Pack returned to the Cross Keys!
The Trail passed by the Civic Hall, where it was noticed that ‘The Full Monty’ was being staged at the end of the month, though some didn’t have that long to wait for when they got back to the Cross Keys Mr X & My Lil’ got changed in the small side room that Tent Packer had set aside for the Hash! Not that one old local could read the ‘Reserved from Noon’ sign on the door!
As predicted, having been spotted earlier by those who got the Train in, the Trail would come out by the Harpenden Arms & then cross over to the High Street. By the time Mr X had utilized the crossing he got over to catch up with Loft & Henry as they were heading up toward the Cross Keys. Mr X was left with a feeling that most of the locals were highly amused by the fact he was wearing a Hashit, a Hashit which I may add had been around a section of Half Marathon course!
Back in the Cross Keys & the Hash enjoyed the Ales, while Sparky got changed those present signed his Birthday Card, in fact Tolstoy wrote ‘War & Peace’ in it in a shorter time than it takes Sparky to get changed. When he came back he took a shine to the walking stick the old civilian interloper had place on the table he had made his in the ‘reserved from 12:00’ room!
As it was Sparky’s birthday a few days earlier, he bought the Pack several bags of snacks. He was presented with his birthday card & a balloon, which had the phrase “Sorry you are leaving!” printed on it!
When it came to the Down-Downs the Pack elected to remain in the small side Bar, to put the old interloper off of his crossword puzzle. The Hare was rewarded for a good Trail that took an hour to complete! Sparky had his Birthday Down-Down, while Mr X got his first for completing 1250 Hash Trails with Herts, then he got his second for not wearing the Hashit the week earlier!