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Hawks walks 2014

  • Hawks Walks 2014 - map reading 001

It’s the first weekend after the May Day Bank Holiday. Where else would you be headed than a secret location in the Oxfordshire countryside for some well organised fun? Some of us had far to travel (273 miles), others not so (9 miles).

Now in our 4th year the starting line-up has changed but the tactics have not:

  • Friday night: food, drink and a good catch up
  • Saturday: walk, pub lunch, dinner and games
  • Sunday: freestyle

This year our team included: Caroline (chief organiser), Phil (walk leader and cake baker), Jacqui (ever vigilant Thames Water rep), Emma (DJ), Linda P (quiz master), Smut (expert washer-up – once she had the right tools for the job), Sophie (snoozer) and Linda B (trifle maker extraordinaire).

We met on Friday evening at The Gillets in the grounds of Charney Manor, Charney Basset. Caroline, ever efficient with her time, was in the house by 4 and had already been for a run by the time the next guests arrived. Slowly we reached our full complement, each new arrival adding to the mountain of food and drink. One thing was clear; if it did rain all day on Saturday (as forecast) we’d be well set up for an indoors day.

After our 3 course, bring and share dinner was consumed we strayed from the usual match plan with a trip to the local pub. It was Hobgoblin all round and a debate over the best way to flip a non-standard shaped Brakspear beer mat.

Re-energised (?!) after our evening walk we returned to the flat to complete a picture quiz. This would give us the co-ordinates for a geocache location on the next day’s walk. After a few false starts we finally got all of the answers, not before losing a couple of our group to sleep.

Saturday started with a hearty breakfast, including eggs from Phil’s chickens, to set us up for the day. All talk was on the weather and what level of kit to wear/pack. Torrential rain was feared but we were incredibly lucky to walk mostly in sunshine with a blustery wind and just a few heavy showers. The first half of the walk saw us encounter two herds of cattle with calves and very protective bulls. We fought them off with speed, courage… and sticks!

During the second half of the walk I wondered if at times we were making a sequel to We’re Going on a Bear Hunt as we went over, under and around obstacles on the route. Sadly after all our hard work on the quiz clues the night before, we didn’t find the geocache at the given co-ordinates. We (well Phil, Jacqui, Linda P and Sophie) did find two other caches on the route.

13 miles was the perfect warm up to the evening’s festivities. I for one certainly needed the exercise to warrant the consumption of Victoria sponge, a chocolate and banana brownie, too many BBQ peanuts, the main meal and my body weight in trifle. Not to mention the beer!
Dinner on Saturday was bookended with games, aided (or not) by the rather tasty plum wine supplied by Linda B. We did a maths challenge (Perudu), general knowledge (the Brain of Gillets) and a Question of Sport (London 2012 Trivial Pursuit). And we all learnt that Henry Taylor was a swimmer who, at the 1908 London Olympics, won 3 gold medals.

Wait! I nearly forgot about bendy Bob… on Saturday night, just when we thought people were about to slope off to bed, Caroline left the room and returned with The Big Taboo. Too late to begin thinking about embarking on a full game we each took a turn using Bob as a puppet to mime some clues. Highlights (for the audience, not the people trying to manipulate Bob) included using chopsticks, putting out a fire, making a cup of tea and filling a hot water bottle.

As ever the weekend ran like clockwork; so long as you were happy for everything to start at 7.30.

On Sunday morning we all went our separate ways, knowing that the year until our next expedition would fly by.

I’ll leave you with one question – what happened to the peg?
Oh, and the answer to the fiendish pictorial quiz title is of course Hawks Walks Match Report.

Match stats
Walkers – 8
Cows and calves – lots
Bulls – 2
Herons – 1
Birds of prey – 2
Horses – 11 (at least)
Deer – 2
Hares – 1
Barbed wire scratches – 1
Electric fences crossed – 3
Electric shocks – 1
Plum wine induced sore heads (that were admitted to) – 1
Rainbows – 1
Pots of gold – 0 

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