Date =                                    31st Oct 2018

Run Number =                   1821

Venue =                                The Toby Carvery Old Forge

Location =                            Stevenage

Hare/s =                                Sludge

Beer =                                   Doooombar; London Pride

Skeletons =                         4

La Catrina =                         1

El Catrin =                            1                                                

Witches =                             2

Monks =                               1         

Ghouls =                              5

Not so scary Hare =          1

Hounds =                             0

Total =                                  15

Membership =                    Spooktacular!                         


            The annual Dìa de Muertos came around again, the Mexican Day of the Dead originally was a month long celebration of Aztec Harvest where Goddess of the underworld Mictecacihuatl presided over the proceedings, it had nothing to do with Halloween.  After the Spanish Conquests the Catholic Church exorcised Mictecacihuatl, moved the date to start on October 31st.

It became a three day event to coincide with the Christian All Saints Day (November 1st), known in Mexico as ‘Day of the Innocents’ as it focuses on deceased infants & children, as well as ‘All Souls Day’ (November 2nd).  Families take offerings to the dead, such as candles, flowers & food, are common, along with offerings left at home altars, including the striking calaveras de azúcar (sugar skulls) normally inscribed with the name of a deceased relative, the skulls are eaten as a reminder that death is not a bitter end, but rather a sweet continuation of the natural cycles of life.

La Calavera Catrina (Skeleton Dame) has become the major, iconic figure, she is joined by El Catrin, the male equivalent, who now appears in Traditional Mexican outfits, & most often as a Bridegroom.  The Monarch Butterfly is also an important image, as it arrives in Mexico in time for the festivals, another symbol or death & rebirth

After being featured in the James Bond Film Spectre, it was elevated from a local family & village festivals into a huge parade in Mexico City just one year later!  In 2012 Disney tried to Trademark “Día de los Muertos” for merchandising purposes in attempt to cash-in on a millennia-old cultural tradition.  Social media users circulated a petition chiding this as “cultural appropriation & exploitation at its worst.”  Within a week, Disney cancelled their request & announced that the film would be called “Coco.”

Anyhow, away from the history lesson - the Pack gathered in the Car Park in all their finery, if this could be call so?  Flanders dressed up as a witch, offered the arriving Hash Trick or Treat, with one tub of jelly being the ‘Trick’ one, containing fingers, Eyeballs & Spiders Etc. Once one of these was retrieved a sweet ‘eyeball’ could be taken from the ‘Treat’ tub to eat, these were really nice!

Mark E Mark & Lobby Lobster parked up, Mr X called out to Mark E  “Eveniung Sparky!”  Then Psycho & Skip arrived all dressed up, Mr X shouted over “Blimey Skip, look what you have to sleep with!” as they got out of the ‘Nutter-mobile’.  Other decorated outfits on display saw Ewok as La Calavera Catrina, with Mr. X as El Catrin, while many like Mark E Mark, Lobby Lobster & No Eye Deer chose the skeletal look, My Lil’ wore his black F.U.K Full Moon Monk’s habit which was adorned with small lit up skulls.  Spotted Dick had a wardrobe failure, as his mask failed to produce the blood it should.

The drably dressed Hare was all flustered looking having just returned from setting the Trail.  The Pack Circled up, which drew more surprised attention from the general public who were coming & going from this busy establishment.  Paxo removed his Dìa de Muertos mask to reveal he was covered in several rows of plastic google eyes!  After the introductions, Sludge warned those searching not to venture too far away, the SCBs were told to stick with him, then everyone was sent off to the dark southern corner of the car park. 

Torches were needed as the dust led through the gap in the wooden corner fencing, now on to a tarmac footpath in the wooded end that was strewn with fallen autumnal leaves.  Mr X had to watch out his sombrero on the overhanging branches.

After two opposing 90° angle in the lumpy tarmac path, the Hash emerged on to London Road, Mark E Mark led the way up over the entrance to the site of the Toby Carvery.  Was this to be the shortest Trail in Herts history?  Nope, all hopes of that were dashed as arrows & Dust took them up along beyond the crossing, running on toward the traffic lights up by the Tesco entrance. 

Mark E Mark soon found the T & turned around to hear the ghoulish groans of those FRBs who were following on behind him.  A gap in the traffic allowed Mark E Mark to pre-empt the Hare by crossing at the pedestrian lights, while the rest waited for the green man to light up on the crossing.  Mark E found Trail & the CHK in the gap in the treeline along the edge of the long narrow 'Nature reserve' no doubt a sanctuary for anything that can survive the busy road.

While Mark E Mark & My Lil’ fell for the obvious long route falsie, Mr X didn't fare much better as he searched north-eastward up the path on to St Margaret’s on the bottom edge of the Broadwater estate.  Ewok, Milf, Custard, Psycho, Skip, Lobby Lobster & Flanders all found the correct Trail on the tarmac track out to the Roebuck junction, where a CHK lay in wait.  Two of the three options there proved to be false, the Pack were “On!” again by crossing over to the small triangular green in front of the ‘Roebuck Inn & authentic Indian restaurant’ to head southward on the Knebworth Road.

Ewok & Milf suddenly stopped up ahead of the rest, turning around to come back had Mark E Mark & Mr X dodging the traffic to search the small Knebworth Gate estate, but were soon called back as the Bar CHK became an arrow, had a Witch cast a spell to change it?  The Trail took to the alleyway between in the wooden fences to lead north-eastward out on to Carisbrooke Close, the Pack would now begin of the first half of the Trail, this would have the Pack being run ragged through the cut-through, alleys & back passages that interlink all of the little backroads wedged between the Hertford Road & the Hertford Loop Line Railway Tracks.

Now usually the scribe adds each & every street name to the report, but this would only confuse some readers as the main route & each of the interconnected dead-end arms are called Skipton Close!  Needless to say that the Pack made their way around where some houses were decorated for Halloween, there were also quite a few kids going around with their parents to ‘Trick or Treat’ the neighbours.  The FRB’s calls of “On!” attracted the attention of one guy in a flat, who hung out of his upstairs window to shout out in a drunken fashion “’Appy ‘alloween!”

Having gone wrong at one CHK on section of Skipton Close, Mr X dropped behind as he followed on after Mark E Mark, Milf, Ewok, My Lil’ & Tent Packer as they made their way through one of the pedestrian precinct like paths that local houses front up to.  At the corner where a yappy wee Scottie dog barked at passers-by, from behind a small picket-fenced front garden, the Lady called the dog back as she handed out sweets to the kids.  The RA was amused to be asked if he want a sweet from the Trick or Treat bucket?  He declined this as he didn’t want to stop.

Even in the dark the Hash would still know that they were in Stevenage, as they passed by a large, abandoned old Cathode-Ray Tube TV beside the footpath.  The Trail briefly headed out toward the Stevenage Brook at one point, before taking the Pack back in to the warren of homes, in an area where the main road & the dead-end side streets are all named the Kimbolton Crescent, so again not to confuse the bewilder-able of the Pack, all I can write is that the Keenies weaved their way back & forth over dark green spaces, through dimly lit back passages & alleyways, passing abandoned pink kids plastic castles to run south-westward to come out on to Tinern Close, close to the Hertford Loop-line again.

A south-easterly trot along this older lane with no footpaths would suddenly turn to the north & lead on to a path that passes through to the east side of the estate, then weaving their way down over the small green area to Braemar Close, arrows led the Hash up to & then across the Hertford Road.

 The Hash followed the Trail to the elbow in the now restricted old route to Hertford, these days only buses can pass through the narrow gap to continue on toward the next section of the Hertford Road.  However, the Pack didn’t go that way & instead it followed the bend around as the route became Ashdown Road.

Starting in a north-easterly direction, the long trot would follow this residential street up to a CHK where it ends at the roundabout on Broadwater Crescent Road.  Milf called “On!” while My Lil’s illuminated string of small skulls could be seen crossing this wider road over to the west, just a little further up.  No Eye Deer had some chalk on her, so she marked the Trail in the correct direction for any back-markers, as Mr X waited for her.

More weaving & turning lay ahead for the Hash, Tent Packer, Milf, Ewok, Spotted Dick & My Lil’ began to pull away a little as the Pack passed by the Sea Scout Hut, the colourful Pack got a few stares & startled looks.  When Mr X, in his Gaucho outfit ran off at the corner of Nokeside & headed out on to the dark green area to the north, two girls out walking didn’t see him running until he was almost on top of them, his black & white Sugar Skull face really made them jump as their shocked screams allayed to.

Out on to Burydale, passing more Trick or Treaters who were disturbing a local woman’s tea, not that she seemed bother by this as she brought out the sweets, the road turned from northward to westward to run up & around a bend In the Willows to resume its westerly route.

By now No Eye Deer stated that she had no idea of where she was, Mr X on the other hand was reassured when the Trail led up through an area where two rows of homes that face each other across the paved pedestrian area, for this led out on to the old Shephalbury Lane, a route the Hash has run several times before.  A turn to the west would now lead along this old route as it took the Hash along the southern, bottom edge of the fenced off Shephalbury Park.

Again torches were called upon as the dark lane led out to the newer estate section of Shephall Lane to run northerly up Lodge Way [Named after Where’s Wally??-Ed] then around on to a Held CHK just beyond the small fenced-in play area.  No Eye Deer & Mr X caught up with the rest, just as My Lil’ became Ewok’s ‘Hash Hero’ as he handed her a tissue, preferring this to using her sleeve or her skirt!

By now the air was getting cooler & the Keenies didn’t want to lose too much body heat, Mark E Mark even sneakily checked it out while the rest gave the SCBs another 5 minutes, or what seemed like 5 minutes!  Mark E Mark called “On!” but waited on the corner until the rest had decided to head off once again. 

Having not heard any creaking skeletons back on the Trail, the FRBs made a decision to move on, knowing that the On Inn was not too far away & hoping that the Hare was sweeping up the old bones at the rear.  For Ewok the stop had taken its toll & she was now happy to walk the rest with No Eye Deer.

The FRBs followed Mark E Mark to the west, running down Woodland Way.  Ahead of them the FRBs could see local Shops on Broadwater Crescent, but the Hare had set the Trail to keep the Pack away from the yoofs that loiter around such areas, which was a good things as Ewok had just confessed earlier that she had purchased Cider for Backpack & may have been an easy touch if she went by the yoofs.

A northbound trot up the dead-end Forest Row would lead up to a cut through to the west, while the rest of the FRBs were quickly down the steps at the end of the path on to Broadwater Crescent, Mr X & Spotted Dick hung back to make sure that No Eye Deer & Ewok were safely on track.  They didn’t want these two to be confused with “Trick or Treat” kids, nor get any undeserved candy or purchase illicit alcohol!

Running between two rows of homes on another precinct with no parking, this kept the Hash away from Our Mutual Friend [Cruel Hare! – Ed], with no Beer-stop the FRBs continued up to St Margaret’s away to the northwest, this was well Hashed ground & familiar to most.  The Dust led off of the elbow in the road & through to the cycle-footpath route along by the A602 Broadhall Way. 

A turn to the northwest would take the Hash on by Stevenage Football Club, Mr X & Spotted Dick were surprised to see developer hoardings around part of the Lamex Stadium, these panels had pictures of various new apartments & houses on them & it looked like the ground was going to be built upon.  Any thought of the stadium being closed was soon gone as once by the front turnstiles a Board displayed that the next game was against Oldham on 4th November!  After some Googling later on, it was found out that the North Stand is being improved.

Again Spotted Dick & Mr X waited for the two Harriettes as the last of the FRBs, which took a while as they had to emerge from around the bend at the base of the high embankment that a tarmac footpath runs due south.  The Wide tarmac trail ran along the inside eastern edge of Monks Wood, this was the home stretch of the Hash as it turned southeastwardly to run beside the Stevenage Brook.

With Ewok & No Eye Deer’s torches in sight, Spotted Dick passed by the On Inn & out on to London Road to return to the Toby Carvery.  The returning fancy-dressed Pack got a few looks from the local diners who complimented them on the efforts taken in the dressing up & make-up! 

Inside the Bar & Milf brought out a couple of little inflatable Sparkys Skeletons to sit with the Hash when they dined at the Carvery.  While in the queue for food, some reckoned that the absent TBT OBE would have enjoyed this fine fare, for one of the meat choices was roast Turkey*, it was a Faketerains Paradise as they even had Beef Dripping Roast Potatoes* (*Faketarian Friendly).  The food was a joy, & with the Hash being the Hash most managed to stack up the food on their plates pretty well!

As the Pack enjoyed their meal, from behind them in the back room sporadic rounds of applause could be heard, then it was noticed that a sign on one set of the doors was a sign for Slimming World.  It was agreed that those weighing-in on the other side of the doors must have some stamina to have to pass by all of the carvery laid out?  The Sliming World people seemed very friendly as they chatted to the Hash on their way out.

The Hare was the only one to receive a Down-Down, for setting a Trail that kept the Pack on their toes [In more ways than one! – Ed]  Then it was down to discuss that no one was available to set the Trail at Nuthampstead, thankfully the Pub has been saved, so as there is no rush to get over there, Sludge suggested the Plough.