Spiritual Distillation, 19th January 2014.

From The Northend Still House. Soprano walks us through the details:
The memory of Sunday, 19 Jan is now a faint vision of blue sky and sunshine - we have hardly seen either since! (Apparently the sun shone somewhere on Skye today).
Massive, Clem, Gazza, Public Enemy, L'Escargot, Snails Nuts, Rentahash, Hot Fuzz, Sue You, Fruitcake, Spider, Wet Wipe, Sleepy, Dolly, Dr W, Puki and virgin Hasher Sue all rushed quickly out into the sunshine. Duracell turned up much later straight from a TACH race plus Diane.
I decided to run the Hash down and alongside the almost flooded Brook for as short a time as possible - just in case a 'Hashing purist' relished trudging through just a bit more mud. I rather hoped though that Hashers would appreciate a bit of a (dry) climb up to, and then a bit of a trot over, Charmy Down - at least to remember what it was like to easily lift one leg in front of the other! I eventually made it to the top myself only to see L'Escargot and Snails Nuts confidently, but incorrectly, heading right down towards Stoney Lane! The continuance of the rain played havoc with the trail. A quick ON back shout and we made it to the regroup amazingly with the Hash patiently waiting for us. Did you know there are over 30 species of birds on the top of Charmy Down? It is truly an area of outstanding natural beauty - even with the now derelict world war 2 control tower and outbuildings complete with the lines of the flight paths still very evident. For me, it is a magical place, especially when jogging over the top at sunset after it has just snowed with Ringo zooming about doing twirly wirlies! Can you believe the powers that be in Bath are again considering turning the top of Charmy Down into the Park & Ride to feed the east side of Bath. (Stick this with the other services down on the meadows with the train line, the canal, the river and the ugly overhead pylons I say). I feel an Emmeline Pankhurst moment coming on!
Once in our stride and easily over the top we approached "the steps" leading down to Chilcombe Bottom. Yes, so called because Why? - chilly bottoms we all had! The precarious slippy, mud soaked descent must go down in hashing history at the sight of a lady in wellies, with a baby strapped in cloth to her back bent double with a hand on each step trying to keep control (yikes). This sight sent us all scurrying away as quickly as possible in abject horror - she wanted no help: why not change your route love? Another regroup at the bottom then Dolly, Dr W and Gazza all assumed we were heading up Solsbury Hill. Ha Ha, this devious Hare had earlier abandoned that idea and we headed left through to Sevenacres Lane even missing out the right turn at the new gate again up towards Solsbury Hill (this was no valley of death Mark VI and this Hare is getting soft). Anyway, back home, legs washed, indescribable muddy shoes and socks at the door - the real serious business commenced - The Distillation:
Cheese and biscuits to ease the hunger pangs, beer on tap. Seven nominations: Massive's ginger and raspberry vodkas, Gazza's second entry of an Aldi bought sloe gin and Soprano's other sloe gin - all so wonderfully distilled that, according to one of our "top" judges - yes, that Cider drinker extraordinaire, Public Enemy - all were regarded as Highly Commended. Other obvious choices for judges were that clean palated Clem - and a Northend resident and virgin Hasher Sue. The hot news was that, as two years in succession winner, Spider's Lynne had not entered - the competition was wide open. The rest of us were salivating as the three judges enviously kept us all on tenterhooks right to the end!
So, in reverse order:
3rd - Soprano's sloe gin; 2nd - Fruitcake's sloe gin; 1st and clear winner - (drum roll) - Gazza's sloe gin.
Once all were tasted (several times) and verified as worthy contenders, the genius for me in the winner and, as Gazza himself glassy eyed and chokingly explained to a clearly mesmerised audience - during the first week of his distilling ..... he put in a clove and a cinnamon stick! Of course, another round of tasting ensued just to verify the clove and cinnamon on our own palates. Much debate and a few beers later, Hashers slowly departed, leaving a select few for possibly a first Hashing experience - afternoon tea and cakes.