2010-08-11 52 0
In a field just outside Soham village, between Ely and Newmarket.
The original plan was to get home from work in the early-to-mid afternoon, and if I had enough time, to cycle from home (in Cambridge) to the hashpoint -- about 27km each way. If not enough time, then drive there. Aiming to be at the hashpoint between 3 and 4pm.
All went according to plan until about 8am. Then I received a phone call at work -- someone had called in sick, and could I please consider spending a few hours this afternoon doing what he had been going to do today? Fair enough, but it did mean cycling to the hash was off. In the end, though, I didn't get home until 4:45, which was too late even to drive. I went shopping, made and ate dinner, and had a productive conversation about wedding readings.
But it did seem a shame to leave this one. It wasn't too far, and seemed likely to be accessible. It nagged at me all evening.
So I went. I set out at 9:45pm. The sun had set ages ago but there was still a tiny bit of light in the north-western sky, and the contrast between that and the dark shapes of the clouds was lovely. I drove north on the A10 for a few kilometres, then stopped in Stretham village to have a look at their floodlit church. Laughter drifted out of the pub over the road; one of the locals stood outside, dragging on a cigarette and talking on a mobile phone. That bit felt weirdly like a scene from a film.
I drove onwards another few kilometres and turned left just outside Soham when the GPS indicated a few hundred metres to go. The field on my right was solidly fenced off from the road. Not another no trespassing prize, surely? The road curved round the corner of the field and then, hurrah! the fence turned away from the road and headed across the field. I parked the car on the verge and examined the magic GPS arrow. It pointed into the unfenced bit.
On peering over the fence, I saw rows of small bushes or trees, tied to sticks. Some kind of young orchard? Then open part of the field had contained wheat earlier this year, but now contained only a few inches of stubble. At this point I fell into a hitherto unseen ditch. Hashing in the dark does have its problems.
I set off across the field, checking periodically that I really wasn't treading on anything that someone might want to keep, and 200 metres later arrived at the hashpoint. A photo was taken of me, in a field, in the dark. After that there didn't seem to be much else to do, so I headed home. Except that halfway back across the field, I realised I'd left the camera case at the hashpoint. Thank goodness for GPS -- how else could you locate a dropped camera case in a large field in the dark?
On the way home I located the source of the low mechanical noise I'd heard from the hash-field -- someone was out in a combine harvester in a nearby field, harvesting more wheat. At 10:45pm. In the dark. It has been rather wet lately -- possibly they wanted to get the rest in before it rains again. Later on I passed a deer, poking its head out from the bushes at the side of the road, but apart from that I passed very little traffic until I neared Cambridge. I arrived home at about 11:15.
I'm glad I went for this one in the end, because it was kind of fun, but I do get up early in the mornings, so I don't think late-night hashing will catch on much. And the photos don't come out very well, either. And I fall in ditches.
Total distance for this one -- 57.6 km by car, 400m on foot.