Friday, February 22, 2013


Mitsubishi car keys left at Bannockburn event last Wednesday, call Greg Barbour on 0416 871 455

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Greg 'The Laird of Bannockburn' Barbour showed no mercy last night, with his wide swirl of the pots failing to find a fiver. The master of this north highland estate offered a brutal lesson in 'earning your keep' with a full scatter of dying English soldiers across the parched fields of Pymble Hill testimony to his tough love. At well over thirteen kilometres ('All Stations' had 13.3 or so on the clock), it was always going to be a big ask for the foot soldiers to go threes - fully two thirds of them slumping in the mud with jambed flintlocks, and without crossing the half way line.

The Laird seemed to be offering a new interpretation of the SSS battle plan - instead of deploying the armour across the A4 map in 'Larry' fashion (i.e., the pot scatter fitting under the outstretched hand), his tactic was to invoke a ancient family option - the Big Feet 'foot print' scatter. And looking rather like an Ian Thorpe footprint!

So it was on that misty afternoon. The damp was upon the ponies, the lonely piper upon The Strui, the last of the Glenfarclas, the hidden headquarters. All caused anxious glances and whispering amongst the troops, who were then rendered mute upon handing over the tenner. Here was a visually high key plan of the estate, with notation and a slim border in magenta. From highlands to lowlands, the defensive positions were well apart. Breaching the fort looked an impossible task. From Thurso and Wick (30/12) in the north, to Dumfries and Annan (8/11) in the south, to Montrose, Laurencekirk and Inverbervie (25/4/3) in the north east, Duns (9) in the east, and the central collection of the 'Steading' pots (Stirling, Falkirk and Peebles - 24/5/26), the Bannockburn estate was well guarded - and runners looked on in despair.

Adjusting their kilts, they gathered in small huddles - some retreated to vehicular barracks, and took a light broth. Others hoped a deep draft of The Steading might be in order. As one, they looked at the plan.

The central start position offered good routes to the north (5/24), east (6/16) and south (15/27), with many if not most troops liking the 5/24 beginning. The intriguing placement of #15 offered another option, the in-out beginning. Those that remembered the Feet's previous outing on this war soaked field, looked at the south and shuddered at the memory - and spent all their planning time justifying why north was better. Flatter of course, and that great 110 point arc up towards the Orkney's, looked a lot more fun than the flog of exhaustion in the south (29/9/25).

A common route march north led on from 24, upgrade to 18, straight on to 2 and 13 (many included #14), ignore #1, and run on to 21, circle east and tuck into some distance work with 22-23 before adding 26 and fiddling around 16/6 before exploding home via 15. Variations dropped #21, added #10 on the Loch Ness stretch, and working up from #23 to add 4,3,25. The 23-26 routers even included the odd in-out 25 claimant amongst them (including Captain Pork Pie).

Of interest is Glenn's full bag route - beginning 6,16,5,24, before a clockwise add and an interesting haggis like middle bit (26,7,28,9,29), and finishing 17 in-out 27,15 and home. I suppose Glenn's work is just a run, an awesome one at that, but once he has inked the map with the flouro line, he just charges off. The lot no matter what. In contrast, the work of the 45 minute men and women (most of the rest of us) demands planning and probably replanning on route as the tock ticks. Interesting to think what 'The King' left off - running 500 at 59 seconds over for his 490 win over Andrew Hill's 480. My guess would be 28,29,9,11,8 off the agenda, but splits and route gadget might prove me wrong. Anyway, that's what I'd leave off!

The south linked well but involved the clammy embrace of our friend Contour Kate - especially those runners, going anti, that felt the chill at #29 and knew that they had work to do before they would next savour a wee dram. As if twenty nine is not bad enough, I wonder who shouldered arms at #28? Another of our 'down, down, points are down' options (sing along please), that added to the challenge of the day.

I loved the Orkney Arc, Gail loved the doggy park below #26, Ted took a fancy to #10 - and all loved #24 and its descriptor of 'Chair'. Who was half expecting an abandoned Lazy Boy? Who thought they were watching the Green Mile?

OK. A very tough ask is our summary position, and a course way outside our 10-11 klm norm. However, it was a grand puzzler, with many string men unable to settle on an attack plan, and beeping off still wondering where to go - with an incontinence pad at the ready. If we are after these route choice conundrums, then The Laird delivered. He doesn't quite claim from The Gordon Highlander's famous Balmoral Tram all time low point panting (I'm liking the Scottish links here, Gordy being of royal blood), but came close. Let's have a look at some performances and stats as the armies take to the field at Culloden.

Firstly, we had just over 200 troops on the Moor (196 entries plus another ten holding rein), which is an excellent turn out up north. New faces on the flog are noted, as are the addicts who continue to delight the turnstile attendants. We had runners scoring at most points of the 600 point compass - except no one home for 470,450 and 150. If Ed 'My God' Maingot had just not had that 49 second break bandaging the musket wound, he might have inched up from 140 to 150 (uh, but then no one on 140!). Oh well.

Our longest on course award goes again to Tim Perry 'S Lookdown' (who might have wandered up to the Blue Mountains and Perry's Lookdown and not be sticking to my Scotland the Brave storyline), with his wonderful 95.38 minute outing last night. Timbo almost did the Full Glenn (a close cousin of the Full Monty), working 580 before the cruelty of Debbies Download Depressant gave him 70 for his troubles. Be interesting to see what twenty didn't fit - maybe #17?? Others enjoying the evening before final drinks with Rob Roy, were Angus & Heidi out for 59.02, Glenn's aforementioned 58.25 and Dale Thommo on a high fifty six - and hoping Rosscoe doesn't mention it.

Our most popular score seems to be 240 points with eleven runners. Ten more got ten, as did 290. All other scores had multiple claimants, apart from Richard and Andy - and Michael Weiner, a lonely 420 OM after copping a two seconder and having to leave the 430 barracks and stand outside. The timing feat of the evening was young Duncan Currie in his blistering 370 pointer in exactly 45 minutes. In similar fashion, Natalya 'The Pancake' Filippova was in on 46.00, and two celtic kings at 44.00 (Ant Burnett & Martin Mansfield). Only three .01's this week, with Ron 'The Rockstar' Garner the most annoyed at 46.01, followed by a couple of 'forty four is not quite enough' blokes - who held back on the dipstick to record 44.01's (Mal Gledhill and Matt Berry).

Of our age group winners and leaders, we see a full board this week, although Karla (240) is our only JW to claim. I've mentioned Dunk, but good to see Callum 'The Next King Of The Rock' Davis joining us with a tidy 320 pings in SJM. Tshinta managed fifty over Ellen (220/170) in SJW, Matty Hill used some local knowledge to outpoint Kaj, Mike and Jay in JM, Andrew Hill's 480 (second only to Richard's 490 in MM) gives him the service medal in OM - from Andy Brown (460), Tommy & Steve (440's) and a triple claim at 430 from Jeremy, Mark and 'The Putter'. In OW, nice to see a tie, with Catherine on fire here, levelling with Gill on a sensational 410 points - ten clear of 'The Napier Earthquake', and another ten on from 'County' Claire Winnick (one of the several Irish soldiers yesterday attempting to defrock the Laird of Bannockburn).

Neil and Kar-Soon take bronze in MM behind Dick and Glenn (with 430's), with Danny Dohle working up a thirst on 410 to hold the jug from Dave 'What's Under The Kilt' Kricker (400). In MW, Alison is on song from Sarah 'Sir' Walter 'Scott' and Julia Clements (350/310/300), Sharon Lambert goes 300 herself (VW), as does Karin in SVW. The Debs couldn't quite bridge the gap here, her 280 holding Carol Jacobson (270), but not enough to catch the Westleigh Wonder.

A no show from The Burt, so Malcolm Bradley slips onto the podium with a nice 430 point win in VM. Mark Savery is thirty back, but holds a trio of fearsome Picts (who are reputed to have torn off their clothes and rushed into frenzied battle naked!!) by ten. Graeme McLeod 'Of Glen Affric', Peter Hopper and Andy Smith 'Of Speyside' are these very warriors.

In a stand out SVM run last night Ross Emslie is obviously fully recovered from his 'dip' at the vineyard last week, and claims from Mel Cox 380 to 370. Mel might not be too happy here Ross, so keep your eye on anything sharp hidden in the Cox tartan kilt. Mike Ward took home a 340, while 'The Pillow' and 'Double Demerits' both had to settle for 320's. In Larry's case, too much pre battle planning is to blame. No sign of the Flickster or 'The Trouser' last night, with your correspondent just managing to hold Ken and Terry (330/320's) in LM. Ron 'Nigela' Junghans was back a bit, a tough broccoli in hand. In IM, Heiko and Ted tied on 330 (from Tim Cox with an excellent 300), which sees this contest really hotting up. Show the old blokes The Clay Pan and let's see who fires - and who has to call the nurse!

Bryony wins from MJ and Marg in LW, Janet shares the win in IW with June Stanley (both 190's) and ten on from Sue - which is also upping the anti here. Good run June, good run Janet, with Sue hoping for a toppy next week to stay clear. The Pan might sort here big time! In the walkers, Jim 'The Earl of Dunblane' Merchant went smartly out and back again for 240 (and a nip of Glenfiddich), well clear of Mathew Morgan's 190. In the ladies, a much bigger field, but the same top score - from Michelle of course. I wonder if she walked the same route as The Earl? Kerryn posted 190, Ruth Jacka 180, Lesley Cox 160, and Julie 130 - and not forgetting Gail's 120 after her fifty minute walk enjoying the location.

I usually like to 'finger' a few more scores, so today we look at the Legends Men from underneath the kilt. Leading us here is Graham 'Hamish' Horrocks, chief Summer Series dad and great supporter of all raids across the border. Graham posted 180 after his diversionary tactics along Loch Rannoch meant he was out on his horse for 58.53 - and considerably reducing his beepometers initial 320. Following on from 'Lord Horrocks', we have Dave 'Of Dundee' Dash, a known outlaw of the Sidlaw Hills and a man  of pace and purpose. DD's 210 comes after surrendering twenty to the Big Foot toll booth operator at Broughty Ferry. Something he can't guarantee wont happen again. Next up, Terry 'The Hanging Judge' Murphy with 230 after arriving at court nearly five minutes early! Terry will be looking to his bailiff to Bring Up The Bodies, as he moves to prosecute course setters with scottish ancestry and residents of Castle Roseville who spend too much time reading. We also see Er 'Nest Of Vipers' Windscuttel on the same 230 points as Terry - this time chalked after a twenty over 250. Another solid run by this LM stalwart.

I also noted OW Skye 'Tim Tam' Arnott last night - on what might be her initial outing this season. Skye had been with us many moons ago, and chucks a 210 onto the brazier for this first up flogerooney. Hope she can make a few more - and bring mum! Quite a few runners with no club noted, although it might just be a database issue. Welcome anyway to Pete de Lissa (OM 310), Andrew 'The Titanic' Shipton (OM 300), Meredith 'Gwen' Dodds (OW 280), Shaun Locke (MM 270), Mitchell 'The Governor General' Isaacs (OM 260), Emily Poole (OW 250), and Shrau Malkani (MM 240) - amongst quite a few others enjoying the tartan blanket of Pymble Hill.

More observations? Heck why not. A curious one first up. Peter Annetts modest (for him) 340 post after riding the war horse across 420 points, but going way over time (52.54). I would have expected The Poet to go high threes - which is where we see a great run from 'The Bottle' (Rowan Bouttell). His 410-30 (for 380) is a sensational score, matched by 'The Horse', and must be one of Lord Bouttell's finest. While I'm in VM mode, I note Wiz with a 350 post, which seems to mean this great lieutenant of the series is back from walking mode to running! Good one. Also noted is Nick Dent 'Of Dumfermline' (SVM 300) down from Terrigal for the battle, and wondering why so few of 'us' have failed to enter the O'Shea two day event coming up this weekend at Dooralong Lodge. Thinking O? Think CCO and this classic three event funster to start the bush season. Call now!

Also noted with sporran well secured, Michael Roylance planning a 300/290 and getting it. No cunning distractions from 'The Stationmaster' this week. Wazza rushed in and out for 360, but well over time (270 final), with Shane Henry another o/t man - his 390 being whittled back by old father time (to 270!). Eric 'The Viking' Smith is noted as a 210 post, but back somewhat early (41.48), with the absolute early bird being Pete Donnelley 'Of Dunkeld' - home in 32.33 (for 180) after not being able to hold the Pike aloft any longer.

That'll do folks, so, lets wrap and inch forward to next week.

A big thankyou to Greg and his team of Feet for the a hard one but a cunning one. Some great loops, some juicy in-outs, tempters that weren't worth it, tempters that were, long legs that disengaged the brain, and short legs that needed high grade fuel - and not forgetting plenty of tidy lawns in this part of Tayside. Great thinking needed near the start/finish - and the Arc of Orkney! Aaah, I could go on.

Next week brings us up to Beacon Hill and a new map, The Clay Pan. Jim 'The Motorman' Merchant is our setter and our mapper - having spent many moons upon the 'pan' (no, not that pan!) with coloured pencils and sighting compass. This new area features some 'normal' park and street orienteering as you might expect, but also has a significant and unusual bush area where there should be action aplenty. This map should offer a new definition of the word 'bush track' and promises to become a classic SSS (and wider orienteering) venue. Don't miss this one for quids.

Jim offers the following comments: "There are several control located off the track network, as well as a couple of cross country route choice options. Competitors choosing to visit these controls or use these route choice options may wish to wear full body cover". Mmmmm, Jimbo, intriguing stuff indeed, and sounding more like the SSS of old. Bring it on!            

Thursday, February 14, 2013


A great evening for a run last night. Cool conditions, a balance of street and bushy stuff, and the promise of some intrigue and discombobulation in the track network, saw over 190 wine lovers (179 plus guests) adjust their tasting cups, tighten their belts - and then belt off as Len Evans raised the first toast.

It was an evening of high scoring. It was an evening of anti-clockwise intent. And, in a leap of faith, it appears to have been an evening on the tiles. Summer Series competitors have suddenly been transported to northern Italy and the vineyards of Piemonte and Verona - where Pork Pie has confused collecting tasty checkpoints with tasting collectable wines. PP, struck by Vineyard Creek's upright replica of Lake Como's inverse letter 'Y' shape, suddenly imagines a Soave Classico at every checkpoint, a pretty Valpolicella with every beep - and the Duke and Mrs Simpson surveying the scene from the Villa d'Este at Cernobbio (built incidentally by Pellegrino Tibaldi in 1570).

I fear it might be a long night!

Let's first survey the scene, a scene of Y shaped watercourses between towering mountains. Well, no, actually a scene of green and beige covered in red grapes. Almost a perfectly tight bunch of grapes at that (perhaps the dark and tannic Barbera) springing from the triangular point of attachment at Homelands Reserve - and just waiting to be nipped. As far as memory serves, this might be the most stand alone and separated start point in recent series. There was to be no going north or east here.

Graeme 'The Abacus' Hill was our course setter, one of WHO's original winemakers, and a SSS man from the beginning. Graeme is a fast SVM, but has been recaptured to the workforce recently (for his adding and subtracting skills) and has not made much of a showing this season - but, he still managed to engineer another goodie at this popular location. 'The Ink Bottle' helped put out controls in the vineyard, with the whole Event 20 shebang smoothly set up and managed by the well attired staff of WHO Wines Pty Ltd.

So, what did we encounter?

Another odd map scale, with the 1:8,000 adding more to the Vineyard Creek legend (who remembers the original at 1:10,000, the January 2000 SSS event at 1:7,500 or the February 2009 run back at 1:10,000?). No matter the scale, it looked particularly clear - possibly the cleanest of them all. Something that would prove of value as the light faded for tipplers trying to locate the Merlot at #12, or the tasty connection between 30 and nine. There was a good spread, but it looked like it would fall to the Flash Harry's with fast linkages and not too much reverse engines - or use of the spittoon.

Most seemed to begin anti-clockwise, collecting 20,27,11 before entering the bush and bagging another quick 100 litres. Then followed a swoop amongst the older bush vines that either meant a low return via 1 and 22 (the Bellagio control), or a climb back to the more open vineyards collecting 16,14,24,19 - or maybe going 24 down to 22/15 via a bush scramble. Homeward via 10,26,17 (possibly adding in-out 19) suited, with #5 also available for those still under 0.5. The southern loop was an easy circle if you had speed, with the return via 8,2,14,24 and then as above, being mentioned in several wine assessments. Control #4 (Grignolino - a light wine of no particular distinction) was the obvious lonely pot.

A few maddies went the other way, beginning 17,26,10 and then into options, and the nice western swing home (including a visit to the bell tower on Santa Maria Maddelena). The only problem here was the lack of add-on's on the way back, unlike the anti clockwise runners as noted above. A positive feature is seeing so many runners coming in and out of controls as you approach - no nav problems here.

All controls seemed well located, with #7 the absolute classic 'sucked-in' control. The tracks thereabouts are confusing enough, but one look across to the bank up to seven should have shouted 'not worth it'. Did they listen? Many did, but this was definitely a gain ten lose twenty moment, and a great little piece of the evenings pie. Heiko lost time here, in a gift to his IM competitors. There are several reports of track stumbles, with our OM star Andy Hill even running 30,9, and right past the small track to 22, and on to 12,7,16. By also missing #1, he had to  return in contorted fashion - running 24,1,22,15 etc on the way back. Still, at 42.09 minutes in the tasting room, he was sweet (enjoying a glass of Piccolit for his troubles). On a more serious 'stumble' nature, we had Ross Emslie 'lost' for some time after a fall into the creek where he also lost his map - and any idea where he was. Thankfully, 'The Slide Ruler' was recovered after the WHO rescue team went into action. Danny 'The Starter Button' Redfern also fell, and twisted one of his many limbs - quickly retreating to barracks for a cold pack (and a cold Vernaccia) and missing the interesting 'Reschs' red and roast beef offer at Cernobbio.

A few other points to note as our tour continues.

Well over three quarters of the field scored 300 or more (153 of the 179 entries) - an unusually high proportion. We only had two .01 finishers to commiserate with - Daniel 'The Spaniel' Smith (52.01 and getting a good look at the back block Freisa vines) and Dmitry Stukov ( a very short outing at 36.01 after too much Prosecco)). There were a few .02's however, none worse than Peter 'Ustinov' Annetts whose 45.02 narked an otherwise brilliant run by this star of stage and screen. 'The PA System's' 580 is an excellent drop that has taken the fancy of Jancis Robinson. Be on guard Peter, she is a nose without peer. In other prizes, the classiest red on the evening award goes to Andrew 'Of Martinborough' Lumsden with his 44.59 final beep in SVM (for 440pts). Phew! And finally, our man with the constitution of an ox, and longest on course award, VM's Tim 'I Do Like A' Perry, out in the tasting room for 61.11 minutes that saw his 530 claim reduced to a sobering 170 - and a promise never to mix Vallellina and Verdiso again.

Our biggest group tour saw 12 tourists stranded at Varenna on 350 points, and the next bus full (11 on 450 points) reading Manzoni's 'The Betrothed' as they sipped pale Bardolino's at Lecco. There were finishers on all points except 590 (aah, Peter, that cruel .02) all the way down to 200 or so, with, as I said, most runners enjoying many refills and taking home more than the usual six-pack. Good fun was the theme, with Grandad Stitt enjoying proceedings more than most - pushing his two grandchildren in the pram up the bush track from #25! Must have had a little Chiaretto on board methinks.

Despite the reasonably obvious looping at the top and foot of the course, some ducking and weaving was needed in the middle. Larry 'The Harmonica' Weiss must have enjoyed too many lazy afternoons at his Tremezzo villa (tickling a cheeky Nebbiolo no doubt), and in a moment of odd madness, went 30 uphill to the road and #10, then back down to 25,15,22,9 in-out (well, Lazzo is our original in-out man of course) and on to 12 etc. Mmmmm, not sure this was worth it when I see 'The Lithgow Flash' piling on 500 to Larry's 450. I think there were a number of 24-15's and 24-22's via the bush - and no doubt bought on as a result of Wayne's classic Penno Punisher last week, and his 22-20 leg. More bush is the cry!

So, how have the imbibers lasted? Has there been a mass break out of vineyard vanity? Have previous shy fillies taken a lead? Sadly, the answer is mostly no. Winners last night are much as expected, with perhaps the most interesting of them being June 'The Long Weekend' Stanley, winning IW with 340 points to Sue Thomson's 320 and Janet's 300. Not too sure, but this might be June's first win, so a toast is in order. Perhaps a nice Barollo on the terrace at Villa Carlotta.

We had no SJW's on the park last night, but a great SJM win to Aidan (550) over Dunk (an excellent 480). Juniors Matty (570) and Karla (360) pulled gold, Andy Hill and Lisa win Open, Glenn and Antoniya Masters, Mike and Paula the Vets - and Mel Cox (530 whoo hoo!) and Karin the Supers. Continuing, we find John 'Lunch Break' Anderson and Bryony holding forth in the Legends class about the construction of the Como Duomo (began in 1396), Ted Mulherrin's spectacular win in the Immortals (440, Timbo just back with 400) - and Jimmy/Michelle walking to victory while enjoying a Chianti Classico, and making plans to visit Monza. These of course, are our winners, but all of us know the real race is further back. Let's here it for Brian 'The Ham Sandwich' Tsang with dad for 100 points in SJM, Marion Gledhill enjoying fifty one minutes of immortality for 190 points, Maria & Boriana Stankova both carding 220's, and Jane 'Paul, Is That You?' Asher enjoying a Dolcetto with her 260 point punt.

Porkie is also taken by the 330 point group "Sophie, Henry, Mum & Grandpa"! Excellent stuff, and our third group tour home after 'The Bruins' (490) and Lou & Kate (400). The Groups got a run last week, so I thought I'd focus on one of the age groups (Masters Men) where twenty three fans of the vine were out on the sip last night. I've noted Glenn taking the champers, but let's not forget Neil 'I Need To Lie Down' Lefevre (580) in second spot, Sandy 'Shoe' Smith (3rd/560), Lee Coady (4th/540), Grant Billen (5th/530) and Matty 'I Can't' Hackett ten further back in 6th with 520. The MM's are mostly page one dudes, and all well into the top 100 (except Pierre's modest 250 and 167th place!), so let's check a few more. Charles 'The Blue Mountains' Blaxland swallowed 490, Stuart Deane's 'Siding' likes shale oil with his Freisa, but carded 480 after a 60 over outing, last weeks guru, Wayne Pepper 'oni' preferred the Schiava to the Barbera in working up 460, and David 'The Blues Is My Companion' McGhee worked a neat 440, but wondered what had happened to Sonny Terry. There were many more of course in this competitive and rusted on group. God, bless 'em!

There were three 'all stations' 600 runners last night, with Michael 'Galileo' Burton shading his younger students with 41.53 to Andrew's 42.09 and Glenn's 43 on the dot. Also noted was Steve Ryan returning to running form and putting up a 570 in just under 43 minutes. Great to see the Blue Shoe back amongst the grape juice. Also, we note Wazza Selby back to a full stretch, and running up 490 points in SVM - knees taped, tasting notes in hand, and quietly chuckling about Rosscoe's feet! Could this see a late dash for SVM gold - or is he just getting up for the Lake Como Tri?

So, let's wrap this - and move on! My Italian history finger is seizing up, and I think I might be due for a little Valpolicella myself. A fine night of Summer Series orienteering, indeed it was, and an excellent roll up so far west. Thanks to Graeme and all the WHO crew. And especial greetings to Chris Crane on the till. Great to see 'Saint' Christopher back with us after his serious illness.

Next week see us back up the north shore where the Feet and Greg 'You Need A' Barbour will work us over at Pymble. This one is up on Bannockburn Road, and should allow a more multi directional flog than was possible from last year's outing. I imagine parks and real estate, and green things called trees. Sounds yum indeed, so mark you old paper calendars with a tick. Also note, that the week following brings on Jim 'The Man Of The Cloth' Merchants "Clay Pan". Jimmy's map is complete and the course is set. All now awaits the treat or the terror of the season. Warm up at Pymble, and then bring your bible!

Also note the pre entry to the MiniGaine is open as noted last week. Finally, Ted Mulherrin has two items of lost property from last night (a black cap and a blue bag containing a drink bottle and some cash -$20). To recover, please call Ted on 0428 314 175.

That's all folks, and remember, enjoy wine in moderation. Just like Pork Pie.                                                        

Thursday, February 7, 2013


The King of the Blues, Robert Johnson, sings the classic '32-20 Blues' - a tune now familiar to the mad bush men at last night's Penno Punisher, as they plugged in, fingered A minor, moved to G7, and picked out their own mourn-full version - the '22-20 Blues'.

Some played the tune in the traditional manner (amongst them, James 'Bo Diddley' Lithgow, noted moving suggestively downhill towards screaming creekside fans with his low slung Fender Stratocaster), while other blues men, including Michael 'Jimi Hendrix' Burton, played their guitar left handed - the '20-22 Blues' - a searing uphill version. It has also come to the attention of your New Musical Express correspondent, that Dr Ian 'The Gold Lame Suit' Cameron took the stage in similar fashion to 'Jimi' - escaping to the waiting limo after his 44.07 minute set, apparently unscathed, and a tidy 360 points in the coat pocket.

You can see by Pork Pie's introduction, that last night's fantastic 'Summer Series Returns to the Bush' classic has bought out a new enthusiasm - and an even more obscure story line from the old gent! It has been 15 years since Summer Series flogsters have locked the car and moved to the starting flag with that slightly nagging feeling - should I be wearing my gaiters? Should the 'ribbons of steel' be housed in some O pantaloon - much as our serial pants man, John 'Hot August Night' Anderson, does? Many fans, bought up on a diet of concerts on the grass, didn't realise that orienteering is truly a bush sport, and fronted as usual in their shorts - little realising that 'Dr Pepper' and his band were to about to play (loudly) with your mind - and legs. And who would have thought Robert Johnson (think "Crossroads") would get to feature in Pork Pie's two finger Summer Series tango! Miracles do happen.

So back to the bush, and back to Penno, with memories of a shocker all those years ago that was spread from top to toe across the song sheet, including fearsome plunging along the Lane Cove River. Eric 'Burdon' Morris won that one with a score well below 'The Rising Sun' (-500). Other attendees, resuscitating their old programmes and memories of struggling in the green and more green, hoped that Wayne would be kinder - and he was - but there had to be a kicker at this location (one of Sydney's oldest orienteering areas/maps), and 'Sergeant' Pepper delivered it in this one sensational bit of course setting - the 22-20 plunge.

Given the lights have come up for intermission, let's have a decent look at the course before the main acts take the stage. Let's look in open admiration at 22-20, but also at the wider programme, the northern blues players (including Muddy Waters - and his slippery creek crossing group), and some of the Delta Bluesmen that featured down south (Mississippi John Hurt and his '29 Creek/Track Blues' for instance).

After paying at the box office, punters were issued with a portrait programme featuring thirty acts. The big stars were generally well scattered amidst supporting musicians - with the whole evenings performances seemingly divided into a north/south offering. 'The Blues of Chicago or the Delta' - take your pick. Many liked the collection of southern blues stars, and the looping chain gang tracks that bought a grin to the circle line thinkers. This route generally began 2,12,13,23 and then offered the Beatles singing 'She was just 17', in a balloon that included 27 and 7, and bought you back to the 3,19 transmission - and the beginnings of the circle west. These sixty 'balloon' points tempted many - but not Larry 'Slow Hand' Weiss, who had ambitions of northern city music venues, and kept his guitar strictly in the case here - running 23,3,19 instead. It must be said the small tracks in the balloon took time, and could have been an early factor in the large number of late backs (125 of the 199 entries).

Continuing with the south/west musicians, many reports have come in of singers going 29,9 and straight to the road end to facilitate 11,21 - ignoring the 5 string banjo. Smart thinking, with most pushing north with 1, in/out 25,15 and then something from the cricket grandstand bar - perhaps a little '4' bar blues. If time was up, a quick skadoddledaddle to 14 and in/out 22 rewarded, with those having taken a little Bourbon on board at the bar, listening to 24 'Hours From Tulsa' and home via 6 'Teen Tons of Number Nine Coal' adding even more value. The track (?) end near 14 seems to have caused problems for these loopsters, with many losing time and having to wait until a 'suitable break in the performance'. Carol Jacobson missed Chuck Berry's classic 'Sweet Little Sixteen' hereabouts.

All up, the southern Delta players were good for low through high 300's, and were the programmes main offer. Many fans smoked this way, clockwise and in a fug of acoustic and bottleneck blues, and working up a good sweat in their frayed bri-nylon shirts as they clapped and swore. The northern blues offer was an entirely different story, with loud electric music the norm, and the nights biggest drawcard, Robert Johnson, on stage with his 22-20 blues. As in the south/east loop, the north offered a 70 point balloon in addition to it's main artists. The run (!) up to 30 rewarded, with Wayne then drawing punters further to #10 and 18 before the retreat to rejoin the main course at #8 - the flying fox control (did anyone hitch a ride I wonder?). Total northern points were less than 300 (high two's if a full gather), so fans of the Chicago blues that intended to punt into the fours and fives, needed to add to their evening run. Tennis high balls and hockey beer found favour, and some stretching to 23 etc on the cards - with it's dreaded empty run back. Many liked the seats at 15,1,25 for a quick add as well - not quite so much empty returning here with these players.

In hindsight, maybe the north was not the place to be in winter. Great artists, raw styling and generally loud playing - but less points. You can see the appeal though. The bush stuff!

So, looking at both areas, we have an excellent 'two loop' programme made all the more attractive (and different to recent SSS concerts) by the placing of control 22. Without this netball court fence corner and it's beckoning plunge on down, the circular swirlings to the south and north would have been less interesting - and much less scratchy. Blood was again a factor, with Pie Face's bread sticks getting a good dose of claret like markings - and Michael 'Hutchence' Roylance coming a croppa in the twenty creek and returning with lots of blood around his eyes (or had the wounded Royal one actually morphed into Bob Dylan playing his great acoustic track 'Blood in my Eyes'?). 'The Queen Mother' might also have fractured his wrist in his fall, but we hope not. Bold bush work needs its reward, and we need a fit MR amongst us.

Control twenty two to twenty then, was the evenings core for me. It gave shape and madness to the evening, and was a must-do route for all kings of the bush. It was a temptress indeed, claiming many victims - including apparently, Glenn 'Lightning Hopkins' Horrocks, who lost many minutes in the bush hereabouts looking for his capo, or his bottle of fire water. But did he find the bare rock?

Looking at our broad range of competitors, we see many more close scores last night, with many runners getting closer points to their peers. We also had many lower than expected scores, including from several headline acts. Perhaps a quick review of these main stars is in order.

Andy 'Huddie' Hill carried the evening with 580 points in a beautifully timed 44.47. My guess would be 5 & 6 would have been the warm up acts he eschewed. Vet Mike Burton took the microphone next up with his '540 Blues' getting the crowd going. The big surprise is having to drop to 480 points to find our Masters Men king! Richard worked up 520 decibels with his axe, but went over the allotted and copped forty off. 'Lightning' pencilled the full card, but went way over, and ended ten further back at 470. Mark Schaefer also worked a full programme, but outpointed the Glenny in his 53.01 (cruel!) minus 90 for a lone hand 510.

Other toppies include Tommy 'The Musical' Joss (OM) and Gill Fowler (OW) with 500's, Andy 'James' Brown a lone but energetic 490, and Dave 'Bowie' Stanley going into space with 470 in MM. James Lithgow made it his night with an excellent SVM win with 440 points. 'Elvis' Lithgow knows the stage here in Vegas and worked a full north south loop (including the 22-20 blues beginning) for 510 minus 70 along very familiar tracks. He knocks off a trio of campus blues pretenders known as the Larry Weiss Trio, who played for 380 minutes, and might have done more if their drummer Gordon 'Spider Kilpatrick' Wilson had not broken his stick. Ross 'Emerson, Lake & Palmer' complimented Larry's bottleneck playing with tidy work on the bass.

High Petterson claimed in SJM with a whopping 410, from Dunk on 380 and Aidan's 360. I note Henry Foster on stage with 220, song book in hand in the same class. Ellen took SJW from Nina, with no JW's to report - sadly. Matty Hill made a modest 370 win for his group in JM (from Jay), and talent spotters in the audience noted Murray 'The Boss' Noble's playing his '250 Blues' and promptly book the Metropolitan. A couple of equal scores in MW, although totals were well down for these stars. 'The Stage Curtain' took the flowers with 350, from Rachael/Louise (320) and Antoniya/Melinda/Julia (280's). Jan Seeho wins VW from Carolyn (290/280) - again totals well below previous performances, but, hey, who's counting! 'The Hair Dryer' was a tidy third here (270), and encored with a blistering Billy Holiday number. Karin (350) was a winner in SVW from The Debs, Bryony from Margaret in the Legends, and Janet from Sue in the IW's. June Stanley was late on stage for an uncharacteristic 80 point claim in the immortals - and might have been a victim of the 22-20 blues.

Stevie 'Wonder' Flick returned to the podium with a well earned 400 in LM, and of even more note, Teddy 'Boy' Mulherin making a quick getaway in the Buick 6 with a strong 360 win in IM. Heiko doesn't want to discuss his 280 4th, but one imagines he might have tangled with the green somewhere. Malcolm held ten over Tim here, and takes the silver. The walkers are as expected, with Mel's 320 and Rachael's 310 stand out performances. Jim 'Morrison' Merchant's overly tight stage trousers caused him to lose time, carding 300 but dropping a 100 of them, as the undies rained on stage.

Many more excellent artists in the wings of course, several of them singing the blues! We might revisit some of their tunes soon. But next, to our normal corner of the programme, where we highlight the oddball stats that make a SSS concert so interesting.

Firstly, let's salute the great roll up. 199 entries, with another ten or so group acts, is a great return so far out of town. When the venue is a top one, and the acoustics world famous (!) - the players will always come. Our biggest collect were the twelve punters sharing 360's, followed by two groups of eleven (320/290). Most scores got a beep, many multiple ones, with several only landing a single contract - we only managed a lone 390 for instance (David 'Crosby' Noble singing in great harmony with Graham Nash and Steve Stills). I have mentioned two of the 600 point runners (Glenn/Mark), but also note that 'Jamie' Lee Curtis Coady was back at the full claim, this time in 62.50 for a net 420. A great blues number by this WHO studio player - look for his new album, "Who's Got The Blues".

Our longest on stage award goes to Heidi & Angus Van Schalk, making an evening of it with their 98.23 minute outing reducing their 50 autographs to a sensational 'minus 490'!! A few others were well over (Allison Lilley 86.37), vet Tim Perry (84.14) and Ernie 'Dingo' Windschuttle losing 200 hard earned points after being on stage for over 64 minutes of solid singing. In fact we had 21 runners out over the hour (including Julia 'Lennon' Prudhoe who's 72.48 might have arisen from a little 22-20 action?), which might be some sort of record. Many, like Dave 'Grey' Stitt, like to get their money's worth, ignoring the clock to enjoy the location. Fair enough says Pork Pie!

Good to also look at the cruel just over timing - especially given it didn't happen to your correspondent! Johnny 'O'Keefe' Petterson takes the award here with his 45.01, the worst of all timings. It just makes him..."Want To Shout"...We had several 44.01's (including 'Stevie' Nick Dent and that great duo from Texas, Chloe & Sam), and a couple of 48.01's - including OM star Steve Ryan (presume still injured) and Gareth 'Bogle' Chandler. As these guys have copped it, the 'phew!' stakes find four players fingering their rosary beads - including Kar-Soon (48.59), Graeme 'Play It Loud' McLeod (42.59) and Alexis 'Corner' Sewell (43.59). As also happens most weeks, we saw a couple of stars drive away from the stage door, perfectly on the minute that their song ended. Nicole Sellin (41.00), Janet Morris (44.00) and Eric Smith (43.00) are the musicians with this discipline - and the delight of promoters everywhere.

I've probably prattled on long enough, but maybe I'll take a last look at the group acts that are often overlooked when a strong bluesman like Andrew 'Leadbelly' Hill is on the bill. Let's here it for the following support acts, groups, trio's and duo's that are out there performing day in and day out - with hardly an album sale in reward. Summer Series punters, it is now time to listen up to some new music. A big round of applause for: James & Marianne Bruins (known as the 'Bruin Twins' and popular early English Child songbook balladeers), Louise Tiller & Kate Schofield (the 'LTKS Bluesband' often found performing at The Tree Weeds Rozelle), Sam & Chloe (soul-singers related to 'Sam & Dave'), Joe & Alex (country & western stuff - boys in boots), 'Team Berko' (my favourites, these guys are an  excellent washboard band, and great with jug and fotdiller), Andy & Emma Barton (known as the Federation Singers, and frequently arrested for singing scandalous versions of the national anthem to the elderly), and the reincarnation of the Andrew Sisters, 'Chan, Linda & Madelynne' - awaiting their turn to announce that the war is over. Great talents one and all.

So, in summary. Penno was a complete blast. Great to be back in the bush, and great to have a course that bought on a bit of rough stuff. We have amongst us many competitors that yearn for a more even spread of bush, park and street running - and this year we deliver with a couple more like minded outings to come (the Clay Pan and North Wahroonga), so bush kings - be prepared! Thanks again Wayne and the Bennelong crew - three events in a week from the lads in blue, green and white is a top effort indeed.

Next week sees us remaining up north (well sort of, north west maybe), as we run another old favourite - Western Hill's Vineyard Creek. Graeme Hill is our course setter and should have us well sorted after he distributes his golden pots and beep-O meters amongst the interesting mixture of creek valley tracks and suburban parks. Some discombobulation can be expected in the bush, with Heiko already worried. Make it a date, and also note the new assembly venue. It is NOT Rock Farm Reserve as per the original programme, but, Homelands Reserve in Homelands Avenue - still Telopea of course.

I'd also like to put in an early plug for the MiniGaine on Sunday March 3rd, and note a couple of points. Firstly the organisers would like as many pre entries as possible (via Rogaining web site) to avoid queue's at rego on the day - there is also a higher fee for on the spot entries apparently. You should note the Ted 'Mulry' Gang is using the NavLight system - NOT sportident. No matter what's involved, it should be a classy way to spend a morning - or is it an afternoon. Better turn off the Blind Willie McTell and pay attention!


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