RIVIERA HASH TRASH PORQUEROLLES 2006
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For the Isle of Wight Hash, it all started in October 2004 when, under connivance of The Hustler, seventh-in-line to the High Commissioner, a large contingent descended on Mauritius to join the Local Hash in a week of Runs and Revelry.
Thus began the concept of the Inter Islands Intercourse Hash House Harriers (I3H3). The requirements, loosely, were that the IW had to set a run on an Island with a resident Hash, palm trees, cheap beer and good beaches. These were rules necessary to get us invites to idyllic places in southern seas and to exclude unacceptable places like Portsmouth and Manhattan.
Now, Loading Bay was put in charge of instantiating our needs, yet nothing happened - so we relaxed the rules a bit so that we only needed a pretty coastline, an adjacent Hash and beer under £2.50 a pint - and getting a round in from the local bar is a bit like setting a Hash, isn't it??? Thus the I3H3 celebrated the UK Full Moon Nash Hash in Guernsey (June 2005) and the Lundy Island Run (August 2006).
We needed another Island.
How fortuitous then that an enterprising Riviera Hasher put the 2006 French Nash Hash Porquerolles (pronounced "porky-rolls") event onto UK HashChatter. Into the IW Trash, and instant interest - dampened slightly by the proximity to InterHash - yet 10 of us went (over 10% of the total attendees).
First-off, Hard-On and PussyGalore jumped in their campervan and took the long route via Alsace and Switzerland. I flew in with FannyMac to meet them on the Thursday to spend an educational afternoon taking the slow route through Marseilles, before staying at the Tour Fondue campsite, getting in a chance of local beer, baguettes, croissants, pastis, moules and a dip in the Med before the Event. Oh La France!
Sipping 1664 in a pleasant Med-side restaurant about 3pm Friday, I rang PoorSod to find out what had become of him, Whippie, Baldrick and Slackbladder. The highlight of their arrival at Marseilles airport (to be reviewed many times) had been Balders forgetting his driving licence and then having a car-hire reference but no Company name - they had caught the TGV and in good Hash tradition played the ignorant Brits without paying. "We're in the Site Bar," said PoorSod, "but they are closing in 15 mins!". This was the first time I'd been in a campervan cornering on two wheels and, not only would the Bar "ne reste pas ouverte" but all drinks had to be pre-purchased - only PoorSod had done this, so we used all his credit to find this to be the only French bar that could serve iffy Eurofizz. During this, Mash and Gisbo (he so named due to his uncanny likeness to the founder of Hashing) arrived from their Eurostar/TGV picturesque crossing of France.
All present, we discovered that there was really no need to drink this Site beer as, on registering, we tumbled into Padre & Big End's apartment, outside which had been set up what was to be a 24-hour Hash bar - at any rate, Higgins thought it never closed. Cocktails, more pastis, ice, wine and stubbies with a fake German name (Pißenbräu?). With the importance (I shall explain later) of arriving for Site dinner on time, we prepared for ElToro's Inaugural Run around the extensive site - we had already sussed out that the area outside was private estates and precipitous cliff paths. Our site, the VVF La Badine, on the south-eastern point of the Presqu'ile de Giens was a self-contained series of ageing concrete apartment blocks and sports facilities, in acres of woodland and surrounded by an impregnable series of fences and automatic gates. A government-run facility, apparently, putting me in mind of the first episode of 'The Prisoner'.... "Where am I?", "You are in The Village!" - Lots to do but No Escape.
I do recall someone asking me for a Run Report - perhaps This will do.... There was this bit of paper - folded-up A4 - probably the back of the Joining Instructions - all the Hash Scribe notes on it - in my pocket when it rained on Sunday - some of the names may be a bit blurred as were my otherwise recollections of a splendid sub-60 Run around the estate starting at the beach, then circling the coast on narrow winding footpaths, a visit to the eastern tip and some war-time bunker for the FRBs (where Tinkerbell was caught taking photos up girls' shorts), false trails (with Hulk mooning - or, was it moaning?), some primeval woodland and always the SCBs getting in front. During all this, BigEnd was resplendent in a fluorescent top, telling ElToro that it was so he "could see her coming". It wasn't a real seaside Hash, though - no-one was skinny-dipping!
The Downdown session was the usual stuff of dress sense and people failing to obey the runes. It also recognised the arrival of the Isle of Wight contingent and Balders' sad tale about his hire-car, plus his early shower before the Run ended. IronBum and CellularSex were given wine from Lake Garda - why, we weren't sure, but something to do with BigEnd and Padre's return visit as Hares for Finale Ligura. Oh, and NoSatisfaction was vibrating, but I was told that was normal.
Now to dinner. Normally this is an interlude between Hash activities but, with VVF, it was a continual self service, not only for food but wine as well - the delight of the three taps in the wall: 'Eau', 'Rouge' and 'Rosé'. This was the France I had dreamed of. We had started off with modest plates with a selection of delicacies, before realising that the waitress took the plate away but not the eating irons. We returned to the food. After a little practice, a trainee FB could manage a good seven-course meal - I was even asked how I wanted my steak done!
After that is was a pay-bar disco or back to the seemingly infinite quantities of Hash beer. I did my washing (to find it dry by midnight), had an hour's kip (quite hard when the Hash Bar is outside your window), then back into the fray.
Being the end of the season, the rooms were family-sized with a double bedroom, another room with three single beds, a kitchenette, loo and shower room (Balders had previously told Whippie that she'd have to share a 4-foot double bed with PoorSod). In the morning, there were splendid panoramic views over Porquerolles - an incentive to get up for breakfast before the Run. This was again self-service, lots of fruit and cereals, but I must admit that I didn't try the wine taps.
A short 'Run' down to the boat which ran a half-hourly service to the Island (unlike Lundy, which is once a day on the tide and I recall, last year, waving to a despondent SwissTony left behind on the quayside). FannyMac introduced us to living off the land on strawberry trees and then wondered why he was carrying a backpack with pullover, waterproof and emergency rations on such a warm day. We were delighted to meet up again with former IW harriette, FlyMe, alive and well and living with the Riviera Hashers.
Balders, PoorSod and I joined a surprisingly small FRB team, hared by Perpetch - the Riviera Hash acknowledging itself as markedly ambulatory. The mis-management had thoughtfully given us a bottle bum-bag and this was now full with drink, hat, sun-tan cream and mozzie spray - but it was to be a hazy day, though running under trees was definitely still the cooler alternative.
There was an all-trails run up to the castle, where we learnt of English invasions and the usual raping, looting and pillaging. Us FRBs then departed on a splendid trail taking in most of the East side of the Island, going South until a skillful descent to a rocky beach turned up a chasm and ascended to the lighthouse. Most of that was paths but we then followed the South coast on what turned out to be mostly virgin gorse with lacerations, hills, paths, goats, gorges and endless bays as we searched for the Beer Stop - reportedly 1/3 of the way round. All credit to The Hare, I took a wrong check and ended up with the back markers, thinking I'd lost the front, when suddenly they reappeared back up a very long downhill false trail. In fact, most of his false trails worked very well. After 2½ hours, with water getting low, we crossed to the North coast to find a delightful bay and the Beer Boat waiting (apparently, Mr Ranger had not allowed boat landings in the south). The Normal Runners and Walkers were already here and we sprinted past the fried eggs on the beach to get to the spread of bread, paté, salami and olives, wine and beers before they scoffed the lot.
Now, Balders observed that the human standard for distance between nipples is always 11½" - we never checked, but he is keen to receive personal details from any readers of this tale.
Into the sea to ease sore legs, sweaty abraded bodies and sore nipples before the second leg of the trail which no-one really found. There was a monastery on a hill, then some confusing runes and we were on the Walkers' trail which someone reckoned led back to the first stop. We huddled around Dingus, who had a bag of flour and declared a short-cut to the next beach - still arriving after everyone else - apart from the two that persisted with the confused trail and arrived as we were about to move on.
A thankfully-short trail along the beach to the ferry where a bar, empty at the end of the season, suddenly filled with thirsty Hashers raising a pint of Eurofizz in gratitude for life, sunshine and the Porquerolles Experience.
The trail led back to Site and onto an exposed cliff-top where Padre summonsed just about everyone for Sins of the Day and we indulged in Intent Cordial to celebrate years of peaceful Hashing between the French and everyone else. It was cold; it was windy; it was bleak; and, at the end, most had sloped off for a shower and rest before the expectations of another mega-dinner and night to come.
Dinner did not disappoint again, with many already dressed in the theme of 'How We See the French', or tarts, or transvestites, or just-come-in-anything. FannyMac and I approached dinner in a methodical way, working slowly from a double bucket of prawns, through a salad course, fish, steak, then back to all the other stuff we'd missed - absolutely no room for pudding! Wine flowed, not only into our glasses but also out through the door (before the staff rumbled us and insisted we drink it in the restaurant) and down to the Porquerolles Room for Hash Party. Our team managed to get about 15 bottles down there only to find that the Hash beer had arrived ahead of us.
We were promised entertainment and we got it - though a large part of the entertainment was ourselves. First up came the Riviera Hash Cabaret, 'EasyLay Airlines', a hilarious spoof of aircraft pre-flight instructions.
I used to dread Hash events where the highlight is Karaoke. Now we found Line Dancing with DiscoDave (why are all DJs .....) (and was that a real moustache?) - remember all those group dancing records of the 80's? - it was a bit like a dozen people trying to keep up with the girl who knew all the steps to 'Saturday Night'. Grown-up, experienced runners, who had previously been leaping over chasms and tree roots, were making complete prats of themselves - good job, then, that we were disguised as onion-selling French people! Only exception was Cumcum, who appeared already dressed in leg-hugging leather boots and knew all the steps. I recall that my last exploit with Line Dancing was when Sh*t4brains interloped the Methodist Women's Line Dancing Team in the Ventnor Carnival, dressed in not much more than a strap-on appendage.
The music stopped at some point and we thankfully carried the Hash beer back to Padre and BigEnd, opened a few and carried on drinking. Reportedly, Higgins remained till dawn, missing the next day's attractions and annoying all the light sleepers who had their windows open.
Sunday. More mega-breakfast and a run from DirtyDingus that the Grand Old Duke of York would have been proud of. In short, an agglomeration of false trails in fine rain, culminating in a mile-long yomp along the rocky beach to the final line-out, and back. His imagination must have really been tested! Most of us kept running off on the Friday evening markings. Padre was stretched to find words to describe the trail and sins worthy of abusing it. In the end, he abused the Isle of Wighters - the only ones brave enough to express an opinion - Coops for slagging off the run by saying he'd been looking forward to crêpe, but Not This - and PoorSod and Balders for being the Grumpy Old Men. There then followed the RH3 Annual Awards - in which about half the Hash got some rather impressive mugs for doing various multiples of ten runs (the awards certainly looking smarter than those our Hash gives). We broke up with an invitation to dispose of the excess 'beer' and departed to our separate ways - the IW canoeing team departing to the Ardêche with the campervan loo packed high with stubbie boxes and wine - many thanks.
To the French Nash Hash Mis-Management, once again, many thanks from the Isle of Wight contingent for a goodie-filled French Nash Hash. The venue was way above expectations and full marks to the Hash attention to ensuring that there was always a beer in our hand. The trip to the Island and runs were superb and we did like the running vests and bum bags (unusual for our lot!). We'll be back.
On On, Cooperman, Scribe, The Isle of Wight Hash House Harriers.