Date = 23rd Feb 2020
Run Number = 1900
Venue = The Robin Hood
Location = St Albans
Hare/s = Wanktlers
Beer = Tring Dark; Three Brewers; Harvey’s of Sussex
Runners = 15
Virgins = 0
Visitors = 0
Newies = 0
Après = 0
Hounds = 1
Total = 14
Membership = Honouring Norman Stanley Fletcher!
Another windy morning, but at least when the Pack arrived the rain had eased from the earlier precipitation. There were two late arrivals, who were spotted walking down Victoria Street by the Circled-up Pack, Wanktlers was correct with their assumption that the RA & Beermaster had been in the ‘spoons up the road.
So, having missed the introduction from Fliptop, which we hope the HGM got right as it was Run No.1900? The two late arrivals were there for the Hare’s ‘Chalk-talk’ which meant they would hear about Short Cuts, which would have a bit going backward upon themselves & this would fall into place when they arrived there? Mr X was surprised to see Ewok & Paxo present after a long absence that left some wondering if they were hibernating with Ketchup? Or has the Ware Icecap must have melted & access down from the hill is now navigable?
Anyhow, the Pack also heard that the first section of Trail was fine, as was the end section for the Hare had been back out there tarting it up, however there was a middle section & this was going to big a big unknown! Then without further ado the Pack were sent away up Victoria Street toward the junction where the Victoria Pub sits, this is currently in a state of refurbishment.
My Lil’ crossed straight over the crossroads toward the City Centre,& called “On!” but he only led the Hash as far as the Bar CHK up the rising hill, meanwhile No Eye Deer was about to start crossing over to the north until a call of “On! On!” emanated from Paxo, who had walked off down Lattimore Road to the south. The returning My Lil', Lemming, Mr X, Mother, No Eye Deer, Tent Packer & Ewok soon passed by Paxo as they ran by the delightfully named Italian Café of La Cosa Nostra, which is the Italian name for the Sicilian Mafia!
The FRBs would soon discover the second Bar CHK of the Trail, which meant a turn back to Alexandra Road they had passed by, where the Trail took to the east as it ran down from the Italian on the Corner. The Hare had already sneaked off down here & was well on his way southward along to the far end of Inkerman Street, a narrower suburban road of Victorian terraced homes. At the end of this the arrows would lead out of a cut-through beside the St Albans Prime Steak & Grill, thankfully there were no Veggies, Vegans or freeloaders on this week’s Trail.
The Hare was already heading sou-sou-eastward on London Road to the Pelican crossing, which had been marked with pink chalk. He was spotted by Mother, so the FRBs joined him in crossing over & running down to the Odyssey Cinema, which is worth a visit in the future to see a film & appreciate its 1930’s art-deco interior.
While the Hare loitered outside of the local flicks, Mr X & My Lil' thought that they knew better than the rest, especially after the Hare’s trickery with the first two Bar CHK, they soon disappeared down the flight of steps beside the Odyssey, but down on the dead-end of Lower Paxton Road there were no markings to be found, their disappointment at being caught out was soon alleviated as they saw Lemming too had come down the steps!
Back up on London Road & the rest had continued on with the Hare, passing by the Great Northern Pub to the small roundabout where Alma Road joins London Road, straight on & a Short Cut was marked southward down Black Cut. While Paxo headed away through this narrow terraced street, the rest continued south-eastward down London Road probably passing near to Sparky’s Gaff, turning at the junction with Old London Road, but the Trail wouldn't go that way just yet as it headed southward a short way on Approach Road, then turning off on to Ramsbury Road. Westward Ho! went the Keenies who realised that they were now on a loop, at the dead-end the Pack took to a narrow old footpath running a right-angled route between various back gardens, though it was rather like being in someone's garden as the route had various gnomes & garden ornaments dotted along the edges.
As well as birds, cats, there were gnomes of different descriptions, one gnome appear to look very familiar. For the bearded fellow looked very much like Sludge, who appeared to be assisting with the Trail as his little cast-concrete wheel-barrow had a pile of Dust in it!
Back out on to the Old London Road to head all the way up the gently rising north-westward Victorian urban way to find a CHK at the roundabout junction with Cottonmill Lane, near to the gates of the Priory [Nope it wasn’t that type of The Priory though Ewok did look! – Ed] While the obvious fenced-in footpath off down beside the Priory was searched, Fliptop had crossed over to head toward the Hare & Hounds Pub where he called “On!” but his cries soon stopped when he found a T!
It was Paxo, who again, found the Trail on the southern descent of Cottonmill Lane, Mr X said that Paxo was probably lured on by the thought of the Trail heading toward the old Sopwell Nunnery? Ewok agreed this could be the case. Sure enough once the Trail had crossed the River Ver, the Trail dropped down to the river’s edge & into Sopwell Park, the Keenies followed the rivers course on the River Ver Trail toward the nature reserve & allotments in the southeast, they'd soon be back as another Falsie was found.
The Hare had already cut away to the south over the partly flooded reserve & off through the remaining edifices of the Old House, these red-brick remains of the 16th Century Manor made a great photo opportunity when Kylie & Milf arrived with FWB. The remains that are there today are not that of the Nunnery, but those of Lee House which Sir Richard Lee, military engineer & Commander of Henry VIII, he tore it down to create his house, but in turn this too was taken apart to furnish another grander Manor House which he never completed.
Sludge was keen to head over toward the road on the western edge of the green space, but it was Mr X who found the Trail after spotting a dog walker take her pooch up through the tree line to come out on to the dead-end of Sadlier Road to the south. At the end if the road was the old level crossing in the old St Albans to Hatfield Branch-line, this one having not only an upper crossing but also a tunnel for safer access when the long gone gates were closed!
Mr X was soon under the Alban Way & followed the arrows to start off in the north-western corner of the Cottonmill Park, heading along the wet western edge there was plenty of Shiggy on the way to come out by the small kids play area & the uncapped service road. A right turn would lead out on to Cottonmill Lane again, & so a street Run resumed as this long suburban way heads away to the southeast.
Eventually Mr X ran out of markings, but looking back the other FRBs were following on, but then crossed over as indicated by the Hare, so Lemming, My Lil' & then Mr X took to the diagonal side road of Nuns Lane, no doubt this pleased Paxo as much as it did the Hare running down there in this tribute to Father Jack Hackett?
At the end of the street the Pack were now out on to the lovely named Butterfield Lane, with acres of Meadows to the south of this, no doubt home to the cattle who supplied the milk for the butter? With the Trail now in its middle section, markings became extremely sparse due to the overnight rain, so it was down to the words of the Hare's Chalk-talk that were recalled, the clue being section of road with no footpath.
Off away down the lane to southeast, the tree lined lane turned southward & on to a CHK by a large old tree trunk. Here Milf wanted to Hold the CHK to allow the others to catch up, while My Lil’ was eager to get on with things. The Hare relented & the Keenies searched again, but not very quickly.
Mr X went off on the slippery Shiggy path, separating two of the fields with thorny bushes & hedges on either side, but he didn’t see any Dust for a long, long way. Only when he glanced back to see Mother following on that he persisted with this route back toward the River Ver in the Southeast.
The long hedged-in path crossed a connecting gap for the two of the enclosures, via double kissing gates, then a 90 degree turn up to run beside the Ver, hidden on the other side of the large hedgerow, eventually the Trail came out to a crossroads of paths right by a ford before the A414 Orbital Bridge.
Mr X took to the narrow footbridge spanning the Ver, this way had a load of lovely wet Shiggy trapped fro hiker’s’ boots along its length, then down the opposite set if concrete steps to the churned up area cattle have congregated around. The RA hedged his bets to carry on up the edge of barbed-wire fence beside the Ver this time to the north.
It was now that the weather changed, as the rain began & the wind blew the precipitation in an almost horizontal direction across the meadows, all off which made the trot up by the Ver Millstream to Sopwell House seem a lot further than it really was. Mr X was now temporarily oblivious to Milf ending up laying in the Shiggy, back behind him at the water crossing, ironically Kylie wasn’t on hand to carry out any Paramedic duties!
Out of the meadow came the RA, then on to a narrow footbridge behind the Manor house, leading out on to Cottonmill Lane for the third time, here Mr X went awry by heading over the Ver to look up the lane to the north. He scoured the area & was called back by My Lil’ as Tent Packer, Ewok, Milf, Mother, Lemming & then the returning My Lil’ made their way around by Blacks of Sopwell shopping units within a large barn
The Hare explained that Sopwell House is where the England Football Team often stay, a house was mentioned there in the 16th Century, but it wasn’t until master mason Edward Strong built his home here in the 18th century that it was really recognised. Strong's career included work on St Paul's Cathedral & Blenheim Palace. It later became the home of philanthropist Mrs Isabella Worley, then in the 1900’s it was rented out to the Mountbatten family, Lord Louis being one of the Children raised there.
Back to the Trail, & this section was actually the bit without a footpath mentioned in the ‘chalk-talk’, as the lane turned up to the east to head between the two section of The Veralum Golf Club, a line of cars came toward the Hash, there was also another coming from behind them, neither were prepared to slow down nor did the ignorant cretins driving yield any space for the roadside line of Hashers. So much for any of them having knowledge of the Highway Code, Mr X contemplated knocking the odd wing mirror as they were that close!
Somehow the Pack got up the narrow lane unscathed, to turn off nor-nor-east & take to a long path within the tree-line separating the northern halves of the fairways. There was one sad figure of a lonely guy still out practice putting, no it wasn’t TBT OBE, he was still ill with the Chinese Burns lurgy! No other golf was taking place as no doubt play was suspended due to waterlogged areas around the course.
A descent down on to an uncapped lane to the Veralum Angling Club would have the Keenies pass under the former railway bridge to come up to a Held CHK by the end of Riverside Road, near to the Watercress Nature Reserved. Now, while waiting for the rest to arrive, & Milf with the sweets, the RA had an omnipotent inspiration as he learnt that Ewok had been looking at bottoms on her way around the Trail, with Tent Packer having what she described as a ‘peachy bottom’ but this title wasn’t held for long as when Mother ran by him she was deemed to have an even peachier bottom!
Some went to look at the Watercress Nature Reserve, but others were keen to move on once photos were taken after Kylie & Milf had arrived & the sweets had been shared out. Mr X did say that No Eye Deer should go & stand by the end house on the terrace, for it was painted with the same blue hue as her jacket!
When the Trail resumed it was found that the Hare had marked ‘Dr Beeching & Kylie’s Trail’ up the ramp on to the Alban Way, Fliptop & Tent Packer started off down Riverside Road, which Wanktlers had marked as a Short Cut for Sludge, Paxo & Whatever She Says at the back. With Kylie, Milf, No Eye Deer, FWB & the rest following on behind Mr X & My Lil’, well Mr X had to take that route with his surname, the others down below were now ‘shamed’ into turning back to take the slightly longer run out by the Old London Road Railway Station on Orient Close.
The Station closed back in the 1960’s, strangely the line stopped passenger services in 1939, these then resumed to take workers to the de Havilland Factory in Hatfield but after the war passenger numbers dropped off again, it is now a cycle way & footpath from St Albans to Hatfield. For years the station was in private ownership, home to a collector of World War II tanks, military vehicles & classic cars, which were used in many films & TV shows. The Station & surrounding land was sold for development in the 1990’s.
Mr X ran on by the Nursery that now resides in the Station, he searched north-eastward under the London Road bridge, then found faint arrows under the Midland Railway Arch bridge, this having a spectacular brick design that no one really seems to notice. Kylie would have been happy, as there was a speaking info board before the bridges for him to play with.
Meanwhile the rest followed Mr X along the line, then the arrows led up the steep z shaped ramp to run through the newer apartments of Milan House in a north-westerly direction, the route would turn northward to lead over to Victoria Square, though some had to be called over from the On Inn, Mr X would get his damp hug from Ewok, seems she had been going around hugging everyone as she hasn’t been on the Hash for a while.
This was so the Hash could get a photo taken outside the famous Blue Gates of the former St Albans Prison, famously used in the title of BBC TV’s comedy Porridge, it now house Council buildings, including the local Registry Office, so some people attending this place are still getting a ‘Life Sentence’ but of a different kind.
Wanktlers did the full speech from the opening credits of the TV show, all of which confused FWB, later in the Robin Hood she was encourage to google the opening credit to Porridge. Ewok on the other hand was more interested in the 16 Pounder rifled canon outside of the frontage! Once photos were taken the damp & getting colder Pack moved on to cross the nearby Railway bridge at St Albans City Station to run back down to the Robin Hood.
In the dry & warm Pub, the Pack could sit in the window, to watch the world go by from the front of the Pub, suddenly there was a shout of “That looks like Sparky!” & it was, as he pulled up on his bike, which he chained up, not to stop it being stolen but to prevent it being thrown in the bin it was being padlocked to! Sparky then disappeared up the road to try to take on some of the Trail!
If Lemming had any Brownie points they wouldn’t last long, as he was being tempted into the Robin Hood’s Summer Cider & Pickled Onion festival, as My Lil’ said they stage it in the summer so they can have the windows open! Meanwhile Ewok was ordering up Cider take away, that wasn’t her only excitement as her phone vibrated between her legs where she had placed it on the seat she was on & forgotten about it while sorting out her change of clothes! Mr X & My Lil’ did what Tent Packer was, in ordering the three third pints of Cider offer, the latter preferred this option as it was the cheapest.
Sparky arrived back, after Sludge had been around getting new Hares & Venues sorted for the Hareline. His entrance heralded time to have the Down-Downs & the Circle took place outside, though it did appear that Sparky may not be joining the rest as he had issues with the patio door, but at least unlike the Navigator in Ware he didn’t get locked in between two sets of Doors!
Without the Honourable GM being there to raise a glass, it was down to Paxo! Anyhow, the toast was carried out by Paxo & then it was over to the RA. The Circle agreed that it was a good Trail, so the Hare was rewarded for the Trail. Out on the Trail there were the misdemeanours of the Milf falling down, this went to Kylie who wasn’t on the scene to use his Paramedic skills on our Trist Aider. Then there were the Peachy Bottoms, with Tent Packer & Mother joining Ewok out in the Circle to show off their ass-ets!
Back in the Bar & the conversation soon turned to deposits for Max & Alfa’s Derbyshire weekend, suddenly it seems that the majority didn’t know anything about it! Claims that No emails had been received, no one had seen the posting on the Herts Farcebook Page, or even read about it in the weekly Trash! All of which left Mr X bewildered as to why he bothers in putting any of this together?
Mr X resent emails from his mobile to those with him, to check that they were getting through, seems that they were to those in the Pub, later he checked the Herts Farcebook page, which showed that the post was still there! Then he thumbed through the Trash for Run number 1897 to discover it was mentioned there as well! On the Plus side at least TBT OBE, like others who have been subdued by the Chinese Burns Lurgy meant none had seen the mistake on the Hare line in July, just around when the Weekend in Derbyshire had been posted! Which reminds me……
This still left the him pondering the question, is it worth all of the effort put in updating all of these forms of communication?