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Lundy Island – July 2008

The Suffolk ringers holiday got off to a challenging start before even leaving the mainland, with a quarter peal attempt at Bideford on the Monday afternoon. Louis Suggett, Tom Scase and me had been held up in traffic on the way down, as had several others, so the previously planned Major band was downsized to a Minor one. They rang Cambridge Surprise Minor, firstly hindered greatly by the excessively long tail ends which the tower captain, who stayed to listen, would not allow them to adjust. Part way through the quarter two pigeons flew into the tower, chaotically colliding with the ropes and ringers before the somewhat elderly local thrust one out and the other quickly followed. Despite the the ropes, the pigeons and the antics of the Tower Captain, they got the quarter peal.

It was a bracing morning on which the Suffolk ringers gathered at the Bideford port, prepared for the ‘moderate’ crossing to the island which was soon to be embarked upon. I was informed that Richard had been seasick on every crossing so far (admittedly usually alcohol induced) so he understandably had a rather nervous disposition when we were on deck. The ferry took an hour and a half, crashing heavily on the waves - I don’t think I’d like to experience a ‘rough’ crossing! Richard managed to just about hold his stomach though, his tactic being to stand firm and watch the horizon, despite being continuously drenched in freezing, salty sea water.

We all quickly settled in on the island, which had a very relaxed atmosphere and only a few activities to be undertaken – ringing, walking, bird watching, and spending a lot of time in the pub which serves its own Lundy Island brews on draught. Much of our time on the island was spent in the pub, eating, drinking, playing darts and many silly games, as well as arranging and discussing the ringing, of course. The Egg game and Pictionary Mania were played every night, although they were loud and very ‘active’, shall we say, and had to be played after many of the other Lundy holiday makers had left for bed!

On the first day, once everyone was settled in their accommodation, we started the ringing in the afternoon with a quarter of Grandsire Caters. It was a brilliant start to the week, and first in method for Mary Allum and first of caters for Jane Harper.
The second day saw gloomy weather to say the least, with thick fog and drizzle all day long. The ornithologists and walkers amongst us were a little disheartened but nevertheless kept ourselves entertained with ridiculously-hard-many-shades-of-blue puzzles, ringing, and spending time in the pub – so doing what we do best! The ringing was unfortunately not very successful, with many quarter and peal attempts being lost.

Over the next few days the weather was a little better, and many people took advantage of the time we had by enjoying the island’s abundant wildlife. There were many butterflies and birds, including Peregrine Falcons, buzzards and, famously, Puffins. Seals were also spotted all around the island and those few people who went snorkelling in the harbour were lucky enough to see jellyfish, corals, plants, and swim with one of the seals.

Thursdays ringing was more successful with two quarters being scored – one of Grandsire Triples and a very speedy one of Norwich and Cambridge by an (only just) under 30’s band for Richard’s 30th birthday. That evening, those quickest off the mark were treated to apple crumble and custard in the barn, which was toiled over by myself and my assistant chef, Ruthie (who I cunningly conned in to making almost all of it!)

On Friday it was the Ruby wedding anniversary of Gill and Dick Waterson. Many attempts were made to get Gill to ring in a surprise celebratory quarter peal, but we never quite managed it! Instead a band-minus-Gill rang a quarter peal of Yorkshire Surprise Major to mark the event. Dick had bought a home made fruit cake with him to celebrate their anniversary, which we all gratefully received that evening at the pub! Once again we’d like to offer them our congratulations.

This day was much more successful in terms of ringing, with a North-West district band ringing Cambridge Surprise Minor, and an over 60’s band ringing Grandsire Doubles proving to the previous day’s under 30’s band that they are by no means past their best!

We had almost all of Saturday before the ferry in the afternoon so after some more failed attempts, continuing the unfortunate streak of luck, we finished on a high note with a superb quarter peal of Little Bob Royal. This was a first of Royal for Anne Buswell on the Treble so well done to them.

Richard, in his wisdom, had packed his ferry ticket into the depths of his bag this morning. However, being an almost you-know-how-old grown man, he went to see the authorities who equipped him with a written ticket. Louis, however, had done something similar but, as usual, was his chilled out self and decided it would be OK. The ferry crew decided that as he did not have his ticket, he would have to wait until everyone else was on board before allowing him on. A good half an hour later and after telling Louis, from on board the vessel, that we would post his GCSE results and see him next year, they found his name on the list and let him on board.

The ferry back was much less traumatic for everyone, with it being a much calmer sea and good weather to enjoy the hour and a half return journey. When we were to arrive in Ilfracombe, many people would need to take the coach to Bideford. The crew member in charge of this service decided that it would be much easier for all concerned if I obtained a list of coach passengers’ names and their fee for the transfer. I was equipped with a clipboard and a list of passengers – I felt like a teacher calling out a register on a school trip!

The end of the holiday saw everyone go their separate ways, worn out but content from a good week on Lundy Island, and already looking forward to next year. A big thank you must go to Kate Eagle who superbly organised the trip, and to Richy who coordinated the ringing with great success!

Claire Monk