Friday 17th January 2020
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The weather was causing considerable disruption across the country, including with Ipswich Town’s match in Oxford which was stopped for a quarter of an hour whilst waiting for a monsoon to die down, in Slough as a roof was blown off a block of flats and here in Suffolk the Orwell Bridge was closed for the second day running.
Not that it disrupted our modest plans with Ruthie’s best friend Fergie popping round on a visit to the town she grew up in, bringing with her Harry Potter sweets and tales of mushroom ice cream whilst she was on holiday, as being a Tuesday we had no plans for ringing anyway.
Whether the conditions were the reason behind the lack of ringing from within our borders recorded on BellBoard I can’t say, although it would be understandable if they did with trees down and roads closed due to the high winds.
Therefore it was uplifting to read the report on the appeal to “repair and regenerate” St Peter’s church in Sudbury that includes plans to introduce a new, wheelchair accessible ringing platform from which to ring the 20cwt ten. Sometimes bells can be an afterthought (if thought about at all) in such circumstances, so it is lovely to see them included in the original ambitions of this project, especially in such a ground-breaking fashion!
God willing the weather shouldn’t overly disrupt it either!
It may be old age, perhaps my largely sedentary position for hours a day in my office desk job or it could be the amount of picking up and carrying around of the rapidly growing Alfie and Joshua, but over the weekend I experienced considerable twinges in my lower back. Not painful so much as uncomfortable and not all the time. Nor particularly restrictive. I can walk and run as normal and as I discovered this evening at St Mary-le-Tower, I seem to be able to ring as normal too, whether you consider that a good or a bad thing! Not that I asked to be tested – indeed I didn’t raise it nor did I intend to unless it became prohibitive – but I put my back through ringing the 35cwt tenor to some Lincolnshire Surprise Maximus, the 25cwt eleventh to Yorkshire Surprise Maximus and then the 4cwt treble to a touch of Stedman Cinques on a pretty pain-free and productive session.
My mind was also taken off the discomfort by the laptop in the corner that was taking samples and recordings in preparation for a Hawkear – or similar – system to be installed and our efforts culminated in all thirteen bells being rung individually for two whole pulls to get some recordings of each bell at the end of a lively practice.
There was also good news about Amanda Richmond following her recent accident in the Pyrenees, as we were told that the blood transfusion she had needed had been done and she was now back in Ipswich and happy to receive visits, providing you give her prior warning!
With that news and a decent night of ringing, another big crowd retired to The Cricketers in high spirits, including myself. It’ll take more than a spot of back trouble to stop me enjoying my post-ringing refreshment!
With George Campling this afternoon becoming the twenty-fifth to ring his 4000th peal (congratulations to George on his success at Skipton!), it got me having a quick look at the wonderful Pealbase’s ‘Crystal Ball’ section to see who – based on how many peals they have rung in the past twelve months – from Suffolk is due to reach a significant landmark in their totals next. As it happens, it appears that Alan Mayle is due to reach his two thousandth peal on 25th February of this year, although I am not due to reach that total until another ninety-eight years tomorrow to get that number under my belt at current rates! Interesting also to note that Robert Crocker and Peter Ellis are due to reach the once extraordinary (but still incredible) total of five thousands peals before the year is out, Peter Randall his six thousandth ahead of 2021 and even at his reduced rate of the last couple of years, Colin Turner is on course to reach a staggering eight thousand peals in about eighteen months. Which incidentally I am on course to reach on 12th August 2546, if I’m not too hung over from celebrating mine and Ruthie’s 534th wedding anniversary the day before!
Others were adding to their totals today and in impressive style on another bumper day of twelve-bell peal-ringing, with three peals on that number, this time featuring between them eight different Maximus methods and Stedman Cinques and more connections from our county, with another David Pipe composition and one-time Ipswich ringer George Salter partaking in the 5040 at St Martin’s in Birmingham. Meanwhile, here in Suffolk his father David was ringing in the second Sunday peal at Aldeburgh where Alan was taking his total to 1994 and the entire band were ringing their first of Dingley Delight Major, which was also rung in the Guild’s name for the first time. Well done to them all.
And well done to Worlingham ringer Rona Sporle on ringing her first quarter-peal of Cambridge Surprise Royal in the 1282 rung over the Norfolk border at Loddon which featured a number of ringers from south of the Waveney.
There was no adding to any ringing totals for us though as neither of us did any ringing at all. Not unusual for my wife who typically spends the Sabbath morn singing in the choir at St Mary the Virgin in Woodbridge, but even though I was present at said place of worship I was unable to join those upstairs on this occasion as I was on hand to help Mason, Alfie and (briefly before he again decided against it) Joshua in rehearsing for the Junior Church Epiphany play which was essentially a delightful rehash of the Nativity play of three weeks ago, just without a real baby playing Jesus as they were busy being baptised in a busy service!
That all preceded an afternoon that saw a chance meeting with Kettleburgh ringer Persephone Booth whilst shopping for ingredients for homebrew but still no ringing.
I’m not sure I’m going to be catching George Campling up somehow. Or indeed Alan Mayle for that matter!
It was an impressive day of peal-ringing on twelve, with six peals on a dozen bells involving fourteen Maximus methods and Stedman Cinques and some Suffolk connections, with one-time Reydon ringer Philip Moyse trebling to the 5090 of Zanussi and Bristol Surprise Maximus spliced at Kidderminster in Worcestershire and a couple of the successes composed by nephew of George and Diana Pipe, David.
Back within our borders the ringing was perhaps less exciting but still notable with Alex Brett-Holt’s first quarter-peal of St Simon’s Bob Doubles rung at Woolpit. Well done Alex!
And it was more significant than our ringing efforts today, which amounted to nothing as instead we spent the morning learning about baptism at Messy Church in Melton followed by lunch. Enjoyable and even educational, but not as impressive as the efforts of other ringers today!
On 31st January at 11pm, the UK is due to leave the European Union. Much has been said on Brexit, but not much on ringing’s reaction to it. Until today, when an invitation was sent out to ringers to celebrate the occasion. Of course for some this is something to celebrate, for others something to mourn. Whatever the point of view though, it would be prudent that if anyone attaches political messages to ringing in relation to this – or indeed anything – from either perspective that they check that those responsible for the bells (which in most cases will be the church of course) are happy for that. Indeed, the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has said as much, having received enquiries about it.
A more traditional ringing subject is tips for knowing whether you are going in quick or slow in Stedman and that was reignited tonight with mention online from Simon Linford of a method. To quote:
Finish your 4-5 dodges down, still oblivious as to how you are going in. When you put your handstroke in 3rds place, watch the person who is doing a handstroke lead. If that person starts to look up as they pull their handstroke, or if they pull the handstroke with the amount of effort that looks like they are going up, then they are going to put their backstroke in 2nds place, which means it is a Slow six, so you make thirds and go in Slow. If the person leading doesn’t look up, then they are going to lead full, which means it is a Quick six, so you need to get your backstroke in sharpish and lead after them, i.e. in Quick.
Many will be familiar with this and many of the other ways that people suggested in the ensuing thread!
Meanwhile, there was some reassuringly straightforward ringing for straightforward reasons on Suffolk’s bells, as a peal of London Surprise Major was rung at Henley in memory of Stephen Ivin and a quarter-peal of Plain Bob Minor at Tannington was rung for the FNQPC.
No ringing for us again, but it sounds like some will be doing some ringing In precisely three weeks time.
Added to a decent haul of ringing successes in Suffolk reported yesterday, well done to the band who rang a quarter-peal of eight Surprise Major methods (and not entirely the ‘standard’ eight, with Rutland replaced by Cassiobury) at Elveden, whilst today on the county’s bells a quarter-peal of York Surprise Minor was rung at Worlingham and a peal of eleven Doubles was rung at Great Livermere. Well done to Kate Gill, Chrissie Pickup and Sarah Plummer on ringing their first in the method in the former. And Happy 339th Birthday to the ladder at the latter...
Meanwhile, I was sad to learn of the death of Stutton ringer Eric Bull, who was Guild Treasurer between 2000 and 2005, rang three peals for the SGR and was ringing at least up until November 2018 when he was recorded on BellBoard as participating in the Ringing for Peace: Armistice 100 at his home tower, where his funeral is due to take place on Saturday at 1pm. Rest In Peace Eric.
Today though, there was no ringing for either of us, with the second-Thursday Surprise Major Practice at Ufford cancelled.
Still, it was another decent haul of ringing successes in Suffolk nonetheless.
Kudos to Ruthie, who after a day of supervising – remarkably successful – potty training for Joshua, managed to partake in the pre-practice quarter-peal at Pettistree this evening. The boys and I dropped her off for it, with her busy reciting the intended method Morpeth Surprise Minor, my favourite of the forty-one. Sadly, that was lost, but a QP of Cambridge was rung instead to celebrate the multitude of birthdays of this time of year.
With The Greyhound closed for its customary New Year break, my wife was kindly brought back by her mother Kate earlier than she usually is, but it was an apparently useful and enjoyable session.
As I’m sure the quarter of Bristol Surprise Major at Horringer and peal of twenty-six Surprise Minor on handbells in Bacton were on a decent day of ringing in Suffolk.
Meanwhile, having happened across the second-Sunday January 2005 peal at Aldeburgh that celebrated the ninth birthday of a certain George Salter, it is a sign of time marching on that almost precisely fifteen years later he impressively celebrated tomorrow’s twenty-fourth anniversary of his birth with a 5760 of one hundred and forty-seven Treble Dodging Minor methods at St John on the Wall in what is now his city of residence, Bristol.
Happy Birthday for tomorrow George and good work on the 3hrs 13mins of top-class ringing, but I imagine your preparation wasn’t quite as trying – though delightful – as Ruthie’s!
More Lincolnshire for some of those who rang the Royal and Maximus variants at St Mary-le-Tower last night, as a proportion partook in the pre-practice quarter-peal of the Major version at Offton tonight.
That should go into the 2020 figures for QPs in Suffolk that God willing we’ll get to view in about a year, but for now I enjoyed having a look at the 2019 stats produced by Neal Dodge and released this evening. I hadn’t really noticed until I read this that I had rung seventeen quarters in the county during the year, which despite not starting until April was more than my totals of the previous two years combined, but still only as many as fellow Rambling Ringer Richard Shere from Devon had rung in our beautiful county in 2019!
Despite a lower total than usual, Pettistree was still well ahead of the second place tower, which this year was The Norman Tower where the medium seems in very good health. For at least the fifth year running, husband and wife team Lesley and David Steed occupied the top two spots of those who rang the most quarters within our borders across the twelve months (and interestingly have alternated between first and second each year!), whilst for the first time across that period, Mike Whitby was knocked off top spot of the conductor’s leaderboard by Brian Whiting.
Encouragingly there were more QPs rung last year in Suffolk than for four years, with roughly the same number of ringers taking part as over the last few years, including ten who were ringing their first which was up on 2018 and with more conductors than the previous year too. Nice also to see a return to the QP columns of a number of towers, especially Stoke by Clare and Stoke by Nayland seventeen and fifteen years respectively after their previous entries. All very positive and thank you and well done to Guild PR Officer Neal on putting it together and sharing it with us all.
Meanwhile, I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one who smiled as the infamous Stephen Ivin “clock incident” was brought up again in regards to a peal rung at St Thomas the-Martyr in Oxford today a decade to the day since he passed away.
London Surprise was very much associated with him, but I don’t know what his thoughts on Lincolnshire were!
At the start of the first full working week of 2020, the short, cold, dark days no longer offset by bright lights and the anticipation of Christmas and New Year celebrations, midsummer seems an extremely long way away. However, this morning Mark Murphy on our local BBC radio station launched this year’s Suffolk Day. For those not aware of this annual day of celebrating the county since it was first marked three years ago, it is held on 21st June and of course offers a chance for good PR for local ringing. With it being on a Sunday and therefore the occasion being turned into a weekend of celebration, the opportunities for peals, quarters and open ringing – especially at towers not regularly rung are plentiful. If you are in a position to arrange something, then please do and let’s make sure that bells are a big part of the proceedings.
They were a big part of proceedings this evening at St Mary-le-Tower where the first practice of the 2020s wasn’t quite as well attended as the last of the 2010s a week ago, but still saw nineteen there and a method repertoire of spliced Surprise Royal and Lincolnshire Maximus (reverting between the latter and its ten-bell variation was a bit testing and I don’t think I passed!) during a session run superbly by Stephen Cheek in the absence of our poorly Ringing Master David Potts – get well soon David!
An incident at Great St Mary in Cambridge that saw a ringer taken ill (though ultimately not seriously) at service ringing yesterday morning brought conversation in The Cricketers post ringing at SMLT tonight turned to the increasingly popular What3Words. Although initially brought up as a useful point of reference for emergencies in – particularly rural – ringing chambers, it soon turned into a search for the codes of familiar locations. We’re hoping that ‘slick.clips.shirt’ which hovers you over the back two bells of the county’s heaviest twelve isn’t a comment on our output, we wondered if ‘rope.grabs.bared’ might start a trend of naked ringing at St Lawrence (‘edges.gentle.ears’ in the north-east corner of this ancient five might be a more appropriate one if one was guiding people here!), whilst we were amused that ‘passing.thousands.pavilions’ sits on the entrance to the facilities at Offton church. And for those who know where the bells of The Wolery are may be amused by the name on the square there! One member of the household was...
Otherwise though, there was no ringing recorded from within our borders on BellBoard today. God willing there will be more over midsummer.
Just over a fortnight ago, we watched a very interesting documentary titled A Merry Tudor Christmas with Lucy Worsley that explored how the Tudors fully celebrated the twelve days of the festival, culminating in a lavish feast, dancing and performing following on from nearly two weeks of downing tools and drinking. Although the same period these days is still a more relaxed time than during most of the rest of the year, it isn’t quite the same as back in the sixteenth century. Indeed, many seem to get their decorations up closer to October than December and then decree Christmas over and pull them down on Boxing Day! The majority of us will have returned to work already too.
However, tonight was Twelfth Night, traditionally when the tinsel and tree come down and thus it was in our household, albeit this afternoon, along with the removal of the seasonal songs CD in the car which had been popular with the boys for the last month. As usual on this occasion, the living room looks very bare all of a sudden.
It was also Epiphany Sunday and hence I found myself accompanied by Joshua taking a sizeable model of a camel down the aisle at church for the beginning of a service where former Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich – and therefore Past President of the Suffolk Guild – the Right Reverend John Waine was licensing six Lay Elders.
Beforehand I was upstairs where the crowds weren’t quite as big as at the South-East District Practice in the same tower yesterday, but there were still enough to ring all eight with others sitting out in a pleasing start to this year’s Sabbath ringing.
Later in the day elsewhere in the county, a peal was rung at Kettleburgh, whilst across in the west a quarter-peal of Corse Bob Minor at Great Finborough was a first in the method for North-West District Ringing Master Maureen Gardiner and SGR Public Relations Officer Neal Dodge – well done Maureen and Neal!
And a very Merry Christmas. Or what is left of it.
The South-East District started its ringing in the 2010s with a practice at Woodbridge. This afternoon it started its ringing in the 2020s at exactly the same venue and if the SE’s events continue in a similar vein then God willing we’re in for a good year and fantastic decade! Forty to fifty members climbed the many stairs to ring on the 25cwt, including new faces (encouraging to see learners from Holbrook there for example), ringing things from call-changes to Plain Bob Major to Stedman Triples to Yorkshire Surprise Major, all under the guidance of Jenny Scase who was running things as District Ringing Master for the first time following her election at last month’s ADM. She did superbly with an eclectic range of abilities from across the District and beyond, such as the visits of David and Lesley Steed.
Our participation followed on immediately from attending the sixth birthday party of my Goddaughter Maddie at 4 Fun Play Centre in Saxmundham with the boys, but other ringers in the county were peal-ringing with a 5030 of Plain Bob Major specially arranged for the forthcoming thirtieth anniversary of the birth of Robert Beavis and starring himself at the tower he learnt to ring at, Debenham.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country, other Suffolk ringers past and present were also peal-ringing. Most impressively of all were – not for the first time – the Salter brothers Colin and George, who were ringing in – and in the case of the latter, calling it – six Maximus methods spliced in the 5016 at St Magnus the Martyr in London, whilst across the capital, another ringer from within our borders was also conducting as Exning youngster Jimmy Yeoman led a band featuring Simon Rudd and Louis Suggett in a 5152 of eight Surprise Major methods (and not the ‘standard’ ones at that) at St Lawrence Jewry. Further south and Maggie Ross was partaking in a 5082 of Sgurr A’Chaorachain Surprise Royal at Basingstoke in Hampshire and then to the west Barrie Hendry was ringing in a 5088 of Kenninghall Surprise Major at Shepton Beauchamp in Somerset.
If they all continue their ringing in a similar vein, they should have a good decade of ringing!
The logistics of what to do with Alfie over the school holidays on days when we are working today took us to Ruthie’s sister’s this morning, then took my wife to her Gran’s after work and ultimately saw our nieces come to ours before their mother picked them up.
It didn’t allow any time for us to ring, but there was ringing in Suffolk as a 1296 of Norwich Surprise Minor was rung at Earl Stonham. Ten years to the day since I partook in the Guild’s first peal of the 2010s though, we still appear to be awaiting the SGR’s first peal of the 2020s.
Perhaps the first Saturday of the decade tomorrow will see us get underway. Logistics allowing.
There was some interest in a social media photo from Matthew Higby of what is due to be the first complete ring of Italian-cast bells in the UK, bound – once Matthew has tuned them – for Stoke St Milborough in Shropshire and weighing in at about 12cwt. They seem to have been cast by Fonderia Allanconi who appear to have a good reputation and indeed Matthew says that he already has orders for another octave in this mould, the front six of the ten going in at Dordrecht and possibly another smaller eight. How soon before we see Italian cast bells in Suffolk?
The eight of Halesworth were all cast in the UK and most of them very locally and I always enjoy having a ring on them, but sadly they were ringing mournfully today in memory of the Rector of Blyth Valley Team Benefice Edward Rennard, who very suddenly and sadly passed away on Monday. Whenever I met him and spoke with him he was very polite and extremely supportive of the active ringing scene on his doorstep and so it was entirely appropriate that at a time when most bells are ringing out joyfully for a new year that the 1260 of Plain Bob Triples was rung half-muffled to mourn his passing. May he Rest In Peace.
This sobering news came to my attention on what was already a sobering day as I and many others returned to work after the break for Christmas and the New Year. I am blessed to have a short walk to work rather than a lengthy and contrived commute that would make it even more depressing and fortunately in my role in sales dealing with independent schools who are still largely on holiday, I was reintroduced to my workload gently, so I can’t complain! However, it felt very dark waking up this morning to begin the return of the daily routine of getting the boys ready before we go to work and the Christmas CD in the car that Alfred insists on listening to at every opportunity at the moment is slightly dispiriting as Mariah Carey warbles All I Want For Christmas Is You for what is a multiple of the umpteenth time in the last month when – despite it still only being the ninth day of Christmas – the festivities are pretty much over for another year! We were grateful to our friends Charlotte and Gregory for looking after AJM as his education continues its festive break though, before Ruthie’s return to choir practice and a shopping trip for the youngest sons and me in pursuit of presents, tea and returns.
Meanwhile, well done to all bar the treble ringer – including Blaxhall ringer Mike Cowling – on ringing their first peal of Glasgow Surprise Major in yesterday’s 5021 at Loddon in Norfolk. Of which none of the eight were cast in Italy.
The new year and decade began with some extremely bad news and some extremely good news.
On the former, it was a shock to hear that our St Mary-le-Tower ringing colleague and Past Suffolk Guild Ringing Master Amanda Richmond has suffered a fall whilst in the Pyrenees and although she is lucky it wasn’t more serious, she has still come away with multiple fractures of the femur and badly bruised hand and face. Having recovered so quickly from the car accident she had a couple of years ago, we pray that her recovery from this is equally swift.
However, balancing that out was word that Claire Roe – once Claire Monk, a ringer at Walsham-le-Willows and along with her sister Sarah the driving force behind the very successful Young Ringers Practices at Tostock which were running when I became SGR RM in 2006 – gave birth to her and her husband Tom’s second child yesterday, a daughter named Bethany and an event already marked by a 5000 of Bristol Surprise Royal in Sheffield. Congratulations Claire and Tom!
I imagine the hopes of Amanda for 2020 will be to recover as soon as possible from her injuries, whilst for the Roes it will be the good health of their children, especially Bethany (and I expect pretty soon, to be able to get some sleep!), but for most of us – apart from the good health of loved ones – our hopes for the year ahead are rather more straightforward. Personally we hope for the boys’ education to continue on a positive trajectory, especially Joshua as we hope he takes to school when he is due to start in September. We hope for a lovely Rambling Ringers Tour which this year is due to cover unusually new ground in Leicestershire. I hope that Ipswich Town start winning again soon (their 1-1 draw at Wycombe Wanderers today means that they haven’t been victorious in a league match for two months) and gain promotion to make up for the relegation of last year. And we hope for an enjoyable and progressive year of ringing.
God willing that will take in a successful Guild AGM at Woolpit and Drinkstone on Saturday 18th April and the Guild Six-Bell Striking Competitions on Saturday 16th May. Although you may notice that the Eight-Bell Competition for the Rose Trophy is included in the details on What’s On as plans are – I believe – afoot to hold that on a separate date in the hope that this will get a bigger entry and reduce the length of the striking competition day, which can be hard work, especially for the judges!
There are other striking competitions that I am keenly anticipating. The third annual George W Pipe Striking Competition is due to take place at SMLT on Saturday 15th February as the hosts look to retain the trophy we won in Saffron Walden last year and we are hoping that we can put in a good showing for our first entry into the National Twelve-Bell Contest since 2007 in the eliminator at Walsall on 28th March. Although Amanda’s injuries are a blow to that as she is an integral part of our team.
Our hopes for the decade as a whole are vaguer of course, although dreams of the Tractor Boys winning the Champions League and us being millionaires by 2030 may figure in my fantasy decade! And one wonders what impact the proposed plans for bells at Combs, Higham and Stowmarket will have on Suffolk ringing and if Colin Turner will reach his 10,000th peal. Seriously though, all I pray for is good health and contentment for myself and more importantly loved ones.
Certainly the contentment aspect has been fulfilled thus far on the first day. I awoke at Kate’s – who had very kindly put us up for the night – with a thumping hangover but Ruthie and the boys with me, a cuppa and a couple of croissants and some lunch kept me sustained and we then went along to the weekly practice at Pettistree that on this occasion was being held this afternoon as my ringing in the 2020s began unspectacularly with some rounds on the third, but was generally a nice way to blow away some cobwebs after the excesses of last night! It was obviously a view shared by many as a big crowd turned up!
Although held earlier in the day, the session was still preceded by a quarter-peal, with a 1365 of Bourne Surprise Minor, but with the boys flagging after a late night last night and an afternoon dashing about the church, we passed on the kind offer of a cuppa at the Garners’ afterwards.
Elsewhere in the county, there was also a 2020 of Double Norwich Court Bob Major at Offton to welcome in the New Year and further afield traditional peals were rung at the cathedrals of St Paul’s, Liverpool and Winchester as well as the annual 1st January quarter-peal rung at Westminster Abbey by a ‘provincial’ band, which this year was from Guildford Cathedral.
It is a good start to a new year and a new decade. For most of us anyway. We all hope it gets better fast for Amanda Richmond.