NH3 @ The One Eyed Stag – 5th Feb 2020

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Next on the floor we have Cinderella and Gripper performing a double routine. It’s the first time for both of them in Newcastle, Gripper’s very first time as a hare; nerves will be a factor here, but they both look very poised, very calm.

As ever, they have to start with choice of bar. They’ve gone for out-of-town, a bold move in February – still very cold out there – but it looks like they’ve pulled it off as that’s a decent turnout, almost 20 in total, most of the usuals along and two dogs, so no slips there. It’s the One-Eyed Stag in Whickham they’ve gone for, not a routine we’ve seen before and a bit set back from the main road, but the beer’s good – full marks for that section.

Now we’re at the start of the r*n. Total concentration from Cinderella here, Gripper’s looking very serious. They’ve started with a running check – it’s a strong opening move, moderate difficulty, not as adventurous as Bedtime Story’s five-ways check back in December, but it’ll catch the judges’ eye nonetheless.

Looks like Floppy and Chafing have gone the wrong way. Apparently Chafing couldn’t even find the bar at first so there’s no surprise there.

They’ve navigated the Front Street and they’re now attempting a right turn – it’s going to take them up towards Chase Park. Oh, and look at that! Very early in the routine and there’s already a Hash Playtime. Perfect execution. Slides, swings – they’re going for the balance bar. Chafing’s slipped! He’s attempting it again but the damage is done, he’s already lost points at the start. Slippery When Wet’s having a try, now Ion Dick, and they’ve both fallen. Now it’s Cinderella – very poised, across in one, no points deducted there.

Gripper’s leading them further into the park. There’s a tower – they’ve set a circle of arrows around it, a very unusual move! Pimp’s hit an FRB next to the tower and he’s just standing there while Slippery, Dick, Chafing, run past him repeatedly. They’re moving on now after the pack – really it was only funny for the first minute or so, they won’t impress the judges with that sort of performance.

Smooth dismount to the Front Street and then a quick series of side streets: Broom Lane, Lansbury, Arthur Cook, Southfield. Five Kuai’s doing something unusual at an FRB, he’s behind the lamppost – jumped out on Chafing, surprised everyone there. Especially Chafing, looks like he’s shat himself a bit.

Looks like a stop check next. Innconts has found the route, it’s a right turn into the woods; he’s very calm at the front as always, even in the dark. Pack is straggling behind and oh dear, they’ve dropped to a walk due to shiggy, that’s going to cost them points.

Now they’re into country lanes and they’re picking up the pace again. Gripper looks very confident here, this is his training ground so he knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s been very sparing with the markings, which will raise the difficulty but could cost him points if the execution isn’t perfect. Luckily most of the Hash have remembered their torches, just a couple of wobbles as they find their way.

The hares have sent them through some extra shiggy – quite a difficult move, it’s led them into a stream, Speedbump’s straight through it but some of the Hash don’t seem to want to get their feet wet, and it turns out Kuai’s got new shoes on! That’s a bad stumble, he’ll see that in his score at the finish.

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Stop check next. Bit slow to finish, the hares did a little headcount there. And now – this is remarkable, Cinderella has called a 360º check! This is unprecedented and very difficult, that hillside’s in total darkness. The judges are holding their breath. It’s worked! She’s pulled it off, someone’s found the flour and it only took about a minute. Perfect execution there, not a wobble at the finish.

More shiggy now, moving along well. Looks like there’s another stream coming up, there’s the footbridge. Stop check here, it looks like they have something elaborate planned; apparently it’s a Geocache, the hares have challenged the pack to locate it. Lot of splashing about, I have to say most of the Hash aren’t really trying, they can’t impress the judges with that sort of performance. Here we go – Sab’s found it, little capsule stuck under the bridge itself, bit of notepaper inside. But nobody’s brought a pen! That’s a wobble which will cost them points, though it’s another unusual and ambitious move in itself.

Did Slippery suggest putting a pube in there? That’s not going to help his score at all.

Dense woodland next, difficulty level staying high. Cinderella’s found a fallen tree and designated it a balance bar – less challenging than the one in the park, Chafing’s crossed it, Floppy’s had a go. Most of the pack have carried on and hit the FRBs scattered through the woods.

Now they’re in the open, roads visible in the distance. It’s another unlit hillside, Misled’s at the front but she’s not very confident about the route. Looks like Chafing’s found it – he’s off towards the fence line. He’s found the check and here’s the double fence manouevre that the hares promised at the outset. Counterfit’s got ahead of them, he’s already over the five-bar gate. The pack take the fence – the hares are really enjoying themselves here, they know they’ve got a lot of points in the bag already.

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Following Sunniside road now, then Whaggs Lane. They’re doing a housing-estate routine here, safe ground after the difficult off-road section. Lots of flour missing here though; looks like the locals have been out trying to scuff up the marks in some kind of mistaken belief that it’ll stop their dogs from getting poisoned or their children from becoming devil-worshippers or something like that. The hares still look confident. There’s a morley there, well executed, just at the foot of a flight of steps.

Pack are starting to ask about a beer stop now – and there it is, they’ve reached the Fellsider. Trees Are’s not sure about the look of it, the words “estate pub” are being bandied about. But they’re all in, no serious stumbles along the way.

Only one barman. Beer’s acceptable. They may lose a mark or two there, depends how generous the judges are feeling. Cinderella’s handing out sweets to keep spirits high. Looks like Omm and Less Cargo are going for a quick dismount here. Beers all round otherwise.

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Now they’re out on Fellside Road, over to the playing fields. More shiggy here, and the trail’s parallel to the main road; Pimp’s noticed this, I think he considers it a flashy move. A check at the end and then on – looks like Sab and Chafing have gone the wrong way as they’re all back into the side streets.

A few quick somersaults and they’re through Glebe Avenue and back to Front Street for the circle. And what a performance!

The circle applauds. Some of the locals are shouting a bit about the noise. What will the judges think?

Well, it’s Totem as GM handing over to Pimp, and he’s called Gripper on his choice of flour receptacle. It’s an orange juice carton, not very stylish, but perhaps appropriate for a virgin hare. High scores all round for the joint effort. Pimp’s raising sartorial issues now, he’s called Floppy in about his sandals and his lack of Hash gear, and then of course it’s Kuai’s new shoes.

He’s drunk beer straight out of them. Perfect execution. A great finish to a great routine. The judges have scored it a 15 – can’t wait to see what else they’ve got in store for us.

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