RIVIERA HASH TRASH 553
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IAH2007, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 31st August - 3rd September 2007
Blue Danube H3 River Cruise, 9th - 16th September 2007
Porquerolles Away Weekend, 21st - 23rd September 2007
Perth Interhash, 21st - 23rd March 2008
Well, I was quite curious to see where Procul was going to take us on this run, as I've done four runs in Villeneuve Loubet myself and feel that I now know just about every nook and cranny in the commune, but amazingly enough, he took us to a new place that I'd never been to before, so I was quite impressed with that.
We gathered on the Promenade de Loup (beside the 'parcour aventure' parking lot), just past the bridge at the entrance to the village. The run was for five o'clock, a sensible time, since it was a very hot July Sunday.
A lot of the regulars were absent (such as Dingus, Sadist, Cumalot, Jobsworth, Sneaky Bastard and Jungle Balls) but we still managed a decent pack of 21 hashers, including two American girls - Lickity Clit from California, and virgin Keverlee from Indiana, and we also had Smelly Pooh, over from Australia for the summer, and the French girl Forceps, who took out a membership. And two other francophone girls, friends of Dire Rear.
Before taking the money I asked Procul where the restaurant was going to be, and was quite shocked when he told me it was the brasserie near the mairie, because at my own hash (in April) the owner of this restaurant gave me quite a hard time, constantly changing his conditions and raising his price, before finally refusing (the day before the run) to take us. I had wanted to get back at him the day of the run (the Sunday of the first tour of the presidential election) by sending the runners in one door of his restaurant and out the other, but when I stationed myself in the parking lot and tried to direct FRB Perpetch to make the detour through the restaurant, he just laughed and said he was going to stick to the flour.
So all through Procul's run I was quite worried about getting back late and having problems with this restaurant owner.
We started off a bit late, due to Dingus not being there to blow his whistle, and Pedo taking a long time delivering provisions to the beer stop, and then we started off quite suddenly, without any explanation of the trail markings for the newcomers. The runners started off down the promenade de Loup in the direction of La Colle-sur-Loup, which was a diversionary loop I think, and we didn't see or hear anything from them for over an hour. Lickity Clit is supposed to be doing their report.
Us walkers went in the opposite direction, and followed Lady Windymere across the road just beyond the roundabout (the road that goes to Roquefort-les-pins), and then crossed a ditch and turned right into a field. For awhile we were a bit worried because a lady with grey hair and a plaid skirt seemed to be following us, but Harley D finally convinced us that she was NOT following us, and to ignore her.
We walked through narrow fields parallel to the road, going in the direction of Roquefort, and at one place we saw a bunch of pointy-looking things that looked like purple teepees at the side of the field, and were very curious about what they might be, but did not go over and examine them. Fairy Plunger pointed out some unusual-looking feathery weeds, and Lady Windymere wondered where the runners were, as they should have been caught up to us by then.
After awhile Lady W led us down into the streambed on the left side of the field (totally dry at this time of year) and we continued on as before, still going parallel to the road in the direction of Roquefort, but now in the streambed, which soon ran alongside the road as the field narrowed and died out.
There began to be a lot of garbage in the streambed, and a bad smell. We were approaching the gigantic garbage dump 'Jas de Madame / La Glacière', which takes garbage from the entire department - from the Var to the Italian border, I think. Soon Skinny A was gasping for breath and feeling dizzy, and I remembered that just the day before, in Saturday's Nice-Matin, there had been an article about the mayor of Villeneuve Loubet threatening to close this dump and sue the conseille régionale (or was it the deputé?) for the pollution of our air and groundwater.
We passed under a bridge, which was the entrance to La Glacière, and could see above us the big sign directing the garbage trucks back into the hillside towards Biot (perpendicular to the route we were taking), and then rows of parked garbage trucks. Almost immediately after this we arrived at a CAMPGROUND!! with lots of little pup tents set up beside the streambed! Who would camp at such a place??? Wouldn't it be over-run by rats?? It's true that once we had passed under the bridge, the bad smell cleared up, but still, it is hard to comprehend how a campground could be situated so close to such a major garbage dump.
We climbed out of the streambed, passed through the campground, and went up the hillside behind it into a nice woody area, and the walk became quite pleasant again. After awhile we arrived at the tower. Every time I have prepared a hash, Mad Max has said to me, "Take them to the tower", which is where he used to go for bike rides with the boys, but I never knew how to get there, since it's on the other side of the garbage dump and quite far from the village. (You can see it sticking up in the middle of the trees when you're driving down from Roquefort, looking totally isolated and inaccessible.)
It was really quite exciting and amazing to come across this tower, surrounded by old ruined walls, in the middle of the forest and we were extremely curious to know how old it was and how it had got there. We climbed up a lot of steps between the ruined walls, and then up more steps to the base of the tower, though most people were too hot and tired to climb that part - only Fairy Plunger and Lady Windymere and one of the francophone ladies (Pam or Kathy) went up, and maybe Dire Rear and Tosspot (I've forgotten), and me (and Lady W's dog). The entrance to the tower itself was bricked up, but we had a terrific view out over the countryside. Down below, quite close to us, were the tennis courts of La Vanade.
After this we came down and walked around and around through the trees and I was totally confused, with no idea which direction we were heading, or where the road was anymore, and then we came to a clearing and there were the runners. It turned out they had done so many false trails that they hadn't even got to the tower yet, and Procul told me (privately) that he was going to skip it now, and save it for another hash. It also turned out that the walkers had made a mistake, and turned where they should have gone straight, so we had to follow the runners for awhile, and walk around in circles some more, until we got back to the place where we should have gone straight, and then we went through some more bush and eventually arrived at the beer stop, which was near the road not far from the tennis club.
By now it was seven o'clock. Procul had told the restaurant we would be there for 8 o'clock, and we still had the second half and the circle to do, so I was getting very worried about that nasty restaurant owner, and so was Procul, a bit, so we said the walkers should start back quickly, but the only ones who started back quickly were Fairy Plunger and Skinny A and me (Farty Bum).
For the second half, we crossed the Roquefort road and went into the golf course and walked up the road until we came to a gate. We went round the gate and ended up in that rocky gravel pit area that looks like it's made from dried flowing lava, and started down through these rocks, and about halfway down the runners started arriving. They seemed to know where they were going, at least Padre did, because Procul had used this bit five years ago, the last time he did a hash in Villeneuve. The runners quickly overtook us and disappeared. The trail led down and then through a kind of pass at the base of the cliff and came out way down at the far end of the promenade de Loup, where the farmers' fields are, not far from the parcour aventure.
As we came out, Fairy Plunger and Skinny A and I were looking at the crops and were ashamed to discover that we couldn't identify many of them, until we recognized some fenouille, and then Fairy Plunger wondered if the feathery-looking stuff he had seen back at the beginning of the run might be wild fenouille. Skinny A told us the South African name for the stuff on the opposite side of the road, which was some kind of forage crop.
We got back to the parking lot and it was already 8 o'clock, so Procul phoned the restaurant and asked if it would be okay if we came at 8:30, and they said no problem. I found this hard to believe and was sure we would end up with some dire penalty. We started the circle and I forget what the down-downs were (Lickity Clit wrote them down), except that young Charlotte (Cream Puff's daughter) got baptised "Cosi Toot Fanny", and there was a totally unjust choice for shit-of-the-week. Honestly, they will give shit-of-the-week for ANYTHING these days!! (And THEN they ask the victim to write the walk report!!)
The circle finished at 8:35. I rushed straight to the restaurant, arriving first, and had to sit there all alone for what seemed an hour (wondering if the owner would recognize me and think he had been tricked, and throw me out), until Fairy Plunger arrived. The table (outside on the terrace) was beautifully laid, with three ice buckets keeping our wine cool. Fairy Plunger immediately started pouring the rosé, and the others drifted gradually in. The owner came along, and he did recognize me. Procul kept telling me, "Don't say ANYTHING to him!" But I did. I said, "There are twelve here, but the night you turned me down we were TWENTY". He kissed my hand and said, "Ah, mais on ne se connaissait pas à cet époque!" He was perfectly charming (just to spite me, I'm sure), and chatted with everyone, and personally took our orders.
The food was excellent - Padre passed his plate down for Big End to taste the sauce on his salmon, and the fenouille was so tender it must have been still in the ground in that field when we passed it an hour earlier. Fairy Plunger kept refilling the wine glasses - it's a bit dangerous sitting across the table from him (me and Lady W) or beside him (Big End), and it was a lucky thing Mad Max was there to drive me home, and that Padre was the designated driver for Big End. Meanwhile, at the other end of the table Pedo was entertaining Lickety Clit, Keverlee, Cream Puff and Cosi Toot Fanny, as only Pedo can.
At the end of the evening the owner might have been a bit surprised when it was me who paid for the meal. (He had given Procul a good deal, much better than he offered me.) Sadist wasn't there to give permission, but Procul and Fairy Plunger and Big End all thought it had been an excellent meal with excellent service, and that he deserved a tip, so I went back and gave him another twenty. Somehow I enjoyed doing that. THAT put him in his place!!
PS Lickity Clit did not do the run report because they were camping, so here is what the runners did, according to Procul's description to me at the restaurant two weeks later, after Pedo's run:
First they went down the promenade de Loup in the direction of La Colle-sur-Loup, and then he sent them up into the canal that runs parallel to it, with the runners thinking they would be continuing in the same direction, but actually the correct trail was back the way they had come. And he sent them on three false trails up the side of the hill from the canal, or at least two false trails, and the third one was a correct trail, that took them up on top of the hill, and they came down from the hill where it comes out beside the Roquefort road, and then they crossed the Roquefort road into the field and did what us walkers had done. Though I don't know how they got to that clearing without passing by the tower, unless they were so late by then that Procul changed the flour and made new arrows taking them directly to the clearing where we found them. He said the runners, led by Padre, did every false trail he had laid.
I THINK this is what Procul said, though it was quite late when I asked him and a few people at the table were drunk by then (though I'm not giving any names), but Procul himself seemed to be okay, and so was I (as I was at the opposite end of the table from Fairy Plunger this week). I should have got him to sketch it on a napkin.
Anyway, thank-you Procul for an excellent run. When Supermarket Trolley and I did our trail up that hill four years ago, it took us WEEKS to find a path through all those prickly bushes, and Procul did his first reccae for this run on the Monday night preceding the hash. Not a bad trail for a solitary hare with six days to prepare!
Also see the Receeding Hare Line!