Wednesday 22nd May 2024

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New Year's Eve 2022

Ufford. Grundisburgh. Pettistree.
Ufford, Grundisburgh & Pettistree

Ruthie and her mother Kate were once leading peal-ringers for the Guild. When I returned to Suffolk in 2005, they were both a regular fixture in the pealbands I rang with, the vast majority of them really good quality and in all sorts of stuff. However, my mother-in-law hadn't rung a peal since we celebrated Josh's third birthday and her daughter's thirtieth with a 5184 of three Surprise Major methods spliced at Ufford and my wife hadn't rung one since the 5039 of Grandsire Caters at Grundisburgh for the Cumberlands eight years ago. Perhaps even more incredibly, BellBoard and the superb Pealbase reveal that she and Mrs Eagle - once a staple double-act of peal-ringing in the county - hadn't rung a peal together for a decade, almost to the day, with their 140th and last alongside each other rung on 29th December 2012 at Pettistree in what was also my 500th peal and my thirty-eighth that year. It feels like a lifetime ago.

Appropriately, the ground-floor six was the setting for their comeback today as they rang the trebles to a 5040 of seven Surprise Minor methods for the thirty-fifth anniversary of the first peal on the rededicated bells and along with conductor Mike Whitby who was ringing his first in the medium for the SGR since the beginning of 2020, took the number of ringers who have rung a peal for the Guild in 2022 to ninety. The highest number since pre-pandemic and indeed more than in 2017 and almost as many as in 2014. With the eighty-five peals rung being on par with the last comparable year of 2019 (when eighty-seven were rung) and 376 quarter-peals rung within our borders, it is hopefully the start of recovery for ringing here.

Sadly of course, we have lost ringers in the last 365 days. Don Price's passing was perhaps the most noted, whilst former SGR Treasurer Chris Barker was part of a double whammy for Otley who also lost their Tower Captain of many years, Jimmy Wightman. Although after a long illness, Marion Holland's death was a sad occasion for The Norman Tower ringers in particular, but to many of us who were privileged to have known her. I was pleased to help the Woodbridge ringers ring to the memory of former ringer Grace Sidey at the request of her family, whilst Bardwell lost Tim Cavell, Bures David Reeve, Ixworth Brian Hale and Pakenham Joan Tipple, They will all be missed.

Generally though, our ringing year personally has mainly been defined by striking competitions. If you count the National 12-bell Striking Contest eliminator and the final we unexpectedly qualified for as separate occasions, Ruthie and I rang in seven competitions this year. Ipswich's days out competing with some of the best ringers in the exercise at The Norman Tower and Guildford are undoubted highlights of the last twelve months, but so was being a part of the band that retained the Ridgman Trophy for the Guild at Kings Lynn, as well as the victories for Pettistree on home bells in the South-East District Six-Bell Cecil Pipe Memorial Bell Method Competition and St Mary-le-Tower in the Guild Six-Bell Competition for the Mitson Shield at Blythburgh and the Guild Eight-Bell Competition for the Rose Trophy at Offton, as well as Ipswich's win in the George W Pipe 12-Bell Striking Competition. Well done to all who rang in a striking competition this year and contributed to some bumper turnouts of teams and ringers.

Our ringing generally has been a really enjoyable experience, although more challenging to fit around football played by the boys and Ipswich Town. The return of the Rambling Ringers Tour as we spent a week camping and ringing in Leicestershire was wonderful and it was great to go to the College Youths Anniversary Dinner last month, as was our everyday participation in the art. At St Mary-le-Tower and Pettistree as I've mentioned in previous blogs but also at Ufford and Woodbridge where it has been a joy to see the progress of learners firsthand, whilst across the Guild it has been lovely to see other learners also progressing with first quarter-pealers and others doing new stuff in peals, whilst the response of the county's ringers to the death of Queen Elizabeth II was magnificent.

However, although a QP at Thurston rung yesterday was added to the county's numbers today, there was nothing noted on BB from the county on this New Year's Eve apart from my wife's 2 hours and 38 minutes of ringing. And after her impressive efforts, our day was one without bells as we spent the afternoon getting school shoes for the boys and new trousers. That is how we roll these days.

We did see 2022 and 2023 in with one last seasonal party though, as after seeing in the last two new years at home, we returned to spending the last hours of the 31st December and first few hours of 1st January at Ruthie's mother's. Incredibly Alfie stayed awake not only longer than Josh but also their Aunty Clare to see midnight along with Mason, no doubt helped along by the superb spread of food, whilst us adults also enjoyed a few drinks. Thank you very much Kate and congratulations to you and Ruthie on your return to peal-ringing!

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Friday 30th December 2022

Stonham Aspal. Bit of history on the walls of Stonham Aspal ringing chamber. My view from the tenor. My view from the tenor.  Stonham Aspal ringing chamber from behind the middle bells. The climb to the ringing chamber at Stonham Aspal.
Stonham Aspal

Ringing a 23cwt tenor to a peal of Caters sounds a bit of a copout doesn't it? Anyone who has ever rung the tenor at Stonham Aspal will know that isn't the case on this ten. They are bells much maligned far and wide, but I feel to an unfair extent and I love that they are there, a unique ring rich in history deep in rural Suffolk. Still, I was under no illusions as to the job I'd volunteered for when volunteers were called upon by conductor Stephen Pettman ahead of this morning's attempt of Grandsire. In fact, it was because of that expectation that I had so readily put myself forward. If circling the tower here ever becomes a thing for me in the future, I'd rather ring the great bell behind than pull it in. Yet, much like the ten as a whole, it is perfectly manageable and we were managing to get some really good ringing until about two hours in the third rope broke on poor Richard Knight. Peal attempt over.

Disappointing as that was, much like my peal loss at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich last month, it was lost at a time we could cope with. We rang long - and well - enough to make it worthwhile people travelling out (especially Stephen Stanford who had come from Bedfordshire for this), but stopped before we felt like we were on the home straight, as even with a bit of confusion over what speed we were going (it seemed brisk, but our calculations suggested otherwise), there was probably still another hour or so to go. Additionally, whilst it had the potential to allow some of the others to bring forward their pre-booked lunch at The Sorrell Horse in Barham, it gave me a bit of leeway on a tight schedule.

For mother-in-law Kate had very kindly booked us in to watch the Deben Players panto of Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood at the Seckford Theatre, which was starting at 2pm. With a 9.45am meet for ringing, it meant a successful peal would've given me very little time to make it back to Woodbridge, potentially even missing the start. Our premature finish meant I got back home for a bite to eat and to wander up to the theatre with the rest of my family.

The show was well worth getting back for too. It is all done by amateur actors of course, but it was a jolly good laugh and the children in particular had a fantastic time cheering on our heroes Robin Hood and Maid Marian and booing the Sherriff of Nottingham! It was nice as well to bump into Hollesley ringer Jenny Lloyd there.

Whilst Rowan Wilson was doing a good bit of promotion for the Guild's Centenary year at The Norman Tower, we went back to Ruthie's mother's for some takeaway before relaxing at home, in the process catching a glimpse of the ringing chamber on Magpie Murders whilst we were watching it on TV with a beer or two. Which after our day didn't feel like a copout.

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Thursday 29th December 2022

Bungay. Chediston. Bures. The Norman Tower. Henley.
Bungay, Chediston, Bures, The Norman Tower & Henley

Bungay. Chediston. Bures. Bury St Edmunds. Henley. North. East. South. West. Central. All across our beautiful county, ringing events are planned in January, as can be seen with a glance at What's On.

The Suffolk ringing year is due to begin as it usually does with the South-East District and their practice, which on this occasion is slated for Saturday the 7th on the easy-going 8cwt eight of Henley with a large gallery alongside the ringing chamber to gather on when not ringing. Two days later, there should be a great opportunity to progress and cement one's Triples and Major with the Bungay 8-Bell Practice, whilst on the 14th the North-West District are planning to hold the first practice of their calendar as they typically do, with ringing at The Norman Tower followed by a short business meeting and a meal at a pub which this time is intended to be The White Horse in Beyton. Later in the day, the North-East District has penciled in its practice on the lovely ground-floor six of Chediston, with refreshments available nearby in the Old School Room. And the South-West District have booked the anti-clockwise octave of Bures on the Essex border for between 3-4.30pm on Saturday 28th. Do support what you can.

St Matthew. Falkenham. Great Barton. Pakenham. Rattlesden.
St Matthew, Falkenham, Great Barton, Pakenham & Rattlesden

Also on the programme are the first Thursday sessions at St Matthew's in Ipswich, whilst Lesley Barrell announced on the Guild Facebook page yesterday that the intention is to hold a practice at Falkenham every Thursday from next week. However, there was already plenty of ringing happening within our borders on this Thursday, with four quarter-peals rung. Well done to Mark Ingledew on ringing his first of Royal in the 1282 of Yorkshire Surprise at the aforementioned Norman Tower and to Neal Dodge and Joshua Watkins on ringing their first blows of Childwall Bob Minor in the success at Great Barton and their first quarter of Ysbyty-Ystwyth Bob Minor in the 1260 at Pakenham, as well as congratulations to Mr Dodge and Stephen Dawson on ringing their seventy-fifth QP together with the forty-three minutes of Doubles at Rattlesden.

No ringing from us this time though, with our day taken up with a very pleasant playdate for the boys that involved lunch and a kickabout in a village park and then a visit to Ruthie's Gran's to pick up a hat Josh had left behind, which inevitably but wonderfully ended up with a cup of tea and us coming away with several tins of food!

God willing that food will sustain us through a busy January of ringing throughout our beautiful county.

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Wednesday 28th December 2022

Post! At last we have post! And along with another Christmas card, it finally included the bumper festive edition of The Ringing World.

There is lots to take in, most of it very interesting, with bands from across the country imparting how 2022 has gone thus far, articles with seasonal themes such as Richard Smith's piece on panto favourite Dick Whittington and AJB's latest 'Down The Pub' installment, poignantly on the day after we learnt of his death. From a Suffolk perspective the star piece is a two-page spread by North-East District Ringing Master and Past Guild Chairman Philip Gorrod entitled 'Don't waste my time' which expounds his view that we ought to be looking to weed out learners who aren't going to last the pace or be of use to the art for whatever reason at the earliest opportunity. Since working with him when I was SGR RM I have known his views on the subject (as have many others of course) and whilst I don't necessarily agree 100% with all he says and his angle may seem harsh, he makes some valid points and good suggestions.

Elsewhere in the issue, Chris Hutchinson's '1,000 Bell Pub Crawl 2022 Update' makes mention of The Bell Hotel in Saxmundham down the hill from the 8cwt six at St John the Baptist. Coincidentally, the only time I have had a drink there was with Mr Gorrod.

Pettistree. Although we spent the morning shopping for cycle helmets (with a store assistant who didn't look too well after coming in despite being run over by a car yesterday!) and clothes for the boys, our afternoon and evening plans were postponed at the last minute due to illness in their family and so we had a bit of extra time to not only pop some things into the loft but also to read the RW before we took it to Pettistree, which our change of plans also allowed us to do.

We were met by Paul Norris, a former local here who we used to regularly travel up to Norfolk - where he has long lived - for quarter-peals organised by him not long after I moved back to East Anglia in 2005. He is temporarily residing in the area but hasn't done much ringing post-pandemic, hence his participation in the pre-session 1296 of Cambridge Surprise Minor being his first quarter-peal since March 2020.

Although we had been warned that on this fairly dreadful wet and windy mid-Christmas Wednesday night that numbers and therefore the practice would be short, we still contributed to some well-rung Stedman Doubles, Plain & Little Bob Minor, Norwich Surprise Minor and spliced Minor as the boys patiently waited. A sweet helped them mind...

Kersey.Elsewhere in the county, there were further QPs rung, most actively in Bury St Edmunds where a trio of successes were rung of Plain Bob of the Minor & Major varieties and Kent Treble Bob Royal, the latter of which was Tim Hart's first on ten in hand. Well done Tim. Well done also to Emily Thompson on ringing her first of Triples inside in the medium with the 1344 of PB on the 14cwt ground-floor eight. Further afield meanwhile, Guild Ringing Master Katharine Salter was ringing in a peal of Cambridge Surprise Maximus at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich for the Cumberlands.

Hopefully details of these performances will arrive through the post in The Ringing World in the not-too-distant future.

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Tuesday 27th December 2022

Many will be remembering lost loved ones and friends at this time of year, including myself as I intimated in my Christmas Day blog. Memories come back more readily as families gather together more and we all begin looking back over the previous twelve months.

Otley.It was a nice time for the peal rung at Otley in memory of two former and notable ringers of this 9cwt ground-floor six, Jimmy Wightman and Chris Barker. The former was Tower Captain there for at least half a century and a big supporter of South-East District and Guild events for many years, whilst the latter was SGR Treasurer from 1990-1995.

After a couple of full-on days though, there was no such activity for us. Instead, we finally got Josh to Jump In on the outskirts of Ipswich after disappointing him last week when it was shut when we were due to take him, before we then sorted through the debris of the frenetic unwrapping on the morning of 25th December and putting together and/or playing with of various presents. For the boys that largely involved Lego, for Ruthie it was trying out a new fleece and for me it was putting together a drinks globe I was generously gifted. Although ironically we had a sober night tonight as we rested our livers.

Elsewhere, I was sorry to hear that the famous contributor to The Ringing World and commentator (famously rather grumpily) AJB - Anthony J Barnfield - has passed away. Although he was a ringer in the West Midlands, I never rang with him to the best of my memory, but I have enjoyed his musings since I first read them in the RW when I was a boy. Many will be remembering him at this time of year in particular from now on.

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Boxing Day 2022

It was good old Boxing Day fare today.

More time spent with family, more food and more drink. There was even time to return to the tradition of watching Ipswich Town play. No ringing though.

Our position next to the away fans at the Ipswich Town match. For once Mason was kindly dropped off at the abode of Ruthie's sister Clare and her other half Chris where we had been generously put up for the night following yesterday's festivities, my eldest had opened his gifts from ourselves and our family and I had left things long enough to be safe to drive, we were straight off to my Mum Sally's house in the county town for a gratefully received lunch and more games. Then it was straight into town to watch the Tractor Boys' 3-0 win against Oxford United from our seats just a few yards from the away fans. Which made for a lively atmosphere, particularly with Josh in a boisterous mood!

Ourselves, mother-in-law Kate and overnight host Chris arrived in time to meet up with Norwich ringer and former St Mary-le-Tower Ringing Master Simon Rudd in the Fanzone prior to kick-off to catch-up and hear about his fast-changing Christmas Day that saw him end up with former Suffolk ringer John Loveless and his wife Linda Garton ringing a handbell peal in hastily arranged plans, whilst the comfortable scoreline even allowed us to make a rare early exit to avoid the mass exodus, albeit well into injury time, the full-time whistle only going just as we were crossing the adjacent Portman Road car-park.

That premature escape allowed us to make it to my wife's Gran's in good time for another roast and evening of festive socialising with her family at the end of a quiet day on the county's bells, at least according to BellBoard.

Perhaps everyone was too busy with family, food, drink and football too.

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Christmas Day 2022

There is a timelessness about Christmas. For all the changing times, advances in technology and evolution of personal circumstances, the basics of the season remain the same. Broadly, families gather together, gifts are exchanged, food and drink consumed. And invariably someone falls asleep late in the afternoon.

Personally the 25th December takes on a rather different appearance now compared to my youth. When my brother Chris and I were growing up the festivities were - bar one year - held in our childhood home. Dinner with Mum & Dad before my father's parents Jack & Lilian, sister Aunty Marian, her husband Uncle Eric and his sibling Sheila descended from the surrounding streets to our home after the Queen's Speech. They are fondly remembered times.

Chris and I have grown up, got hitched and been welcomed into additional families and their Christmases and sadly of course the above relatives have gradually left us and with Aunty Marian now in a care home that just left our mother Sally of our elders from back then to celebrate Christmas with today. Instead of the hosting she has done so wonderfully for many years, she was very kindly welcomed to Ruthie's mother Kate's for dinner along with us, the boys' Grandad Ron and my wife's sister Clare, her other half Chris and our nieces, as well Merlin and Cleo the dogs! God willing these will be fondly remembered times for our children.

After a cuppa and a relaxed chat, she made her way to Bury St Edmunds to spend the evening with my younger sibling Chris and his wife Becky's family, which included her father Stephen Munford and her brother Carl, as well as her aunt and uncle Anita and Maurice Rose, whilst we moved onto my other half's Gran's where we were joined by more family for further food and drink before eventually ending up at Clare and Chris' abode for a silly but fun game of 'What Am I?' and beds for the night.

What awaited the boys on Christmas Day morning! Ruthie and me on Christmas Day 2022.

It was quite different from any Christmas Day we've ever had, with even the familiar appearance of the monarch mid-afternoon changed as we watched the first ever televised King's Speech. However, one thing that truly linked this Christmas with our own past Christmases and even those of millions of others going back centuries, was bells. The sound of so many festive books, songs, films and TV shows, which we are privileged to provide, as we did this morning.

The Christmas Tree at the bottom of the stairs to St Mary-le-Tower ringing chamber.Once the boys had ripped open the many presents that Santa Claus had very kindly brought overnight, that began at Pettistree where we helped ring Doubles of the Stedman, Grandsire, St Simon's Bob and Plain Bob varieties and then at St Mary-le-Tower where unfortunately the presence of Samantha from Haverfordwest wasn't enough to outweigh the absence of others understandably away from a numbers perspective. Sometimes things work out in your favour on such days, sometimes it doesn't, but whilst we weren't able to ring all twelve for our visitor, she did allow us to ring some rounds on the ten, whilst we were pleased to put on some good ringing on eight for her with Stedman Triples on the front bells and then the back ones before a half-course of Yorkshire Surprise Major on our 10cwt octave.

Clare.By this stage, I had dropped Ruthie off at St Mary-the-Virgin's in Woodbridge to sing with the choir there for the morning service which was preceded by ringing upstairs by a band featuring a return visit from Laura Lindley, whilst also on BellBoard from the county's bells was the morning's ringing at Clare.

There will have been more of course. A timeless sound over an almost timeless landscape at a seemingly timeless time of year.

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Christmas Eve 2022

Both Ruthie and I have had this last week off from work, allowing us to finish off what festive tasks we usually have to leave until Christmas Eve most years, in time for this Christmas Eve to be entirely about meeting friends and family and doing some seasonal ringing at leisure. It even allowed for a late morning start to the day after a few drinks last night, as we eventually meandered over to my brother Chris and his wife Becky's abode near Bury St Edmunds (passing a horse pulling Father Christmas, a reindeer and an elf on a quiet country lane!) for some gratefully received lunch and an early bit of present opening, before we returned home, picking up my wife's best friend Fergie along the way to catch up with her whilst she is back in her hometown for the festivities.

Ruthie trying on the Harry Potter Sorting Hat. After a few hours of playing with the Harry Potter Sorting Hat that our guest had gifted the boys, we dropped her off before she was going on to a carol service, passed the churches of Great Bealings and St Margaret's in Ipswich lit in anticipation of Christmas services and unbelievably for us arrived on time to ring at St Mary-le-Tower for their Nine Lessons and Carols.

There was a good crowd of ringers for it too, but since the rapid rise in temperatures last weekend, many towers have reported finding very slippery and stiff ropes and certainly the latter caused some challenges this evening. Still, after an initial mishap, the learners ended up getting the hang of the conditions quite well, with some call-changes and rounds on twelve, with one lot rung with a band featuring five from the Salter/Whittell family, whilst there was also some well-rung touches of Grandsire and then Stedman Caters and half-a-course of Yorkshire Surprise Royal. And some of us mused whether naming bells after chocolate might be the way forward when one ringer heard the confectionary mentioned from the other side of the ringing chamber rather better than they usually hear call-changes!

-2022-01-25 Saint Mary’s parish church, Long Stratton (1) Ours wasn't the only ringing in Suffolk, with BellBoard noting the ringing at All Saints in Sudbury and Woodbridge for their Christingle services and the quarter-peal of Double Norwich Court Bob Major at Offton, but of course there would've been much more going on across the county, including for Midnight Mass. And beyond our borders, it was great to see that a peal had been rung at Long Stratton in Norfolk on this date for an incredible sixty-eighth year in a row, especially after the challenges it has had to overcome in recent years for one reason and another. Even better that for the first time in three years it was rung on the 9cwt six after the last two successes had to be on handbells. Although not rung on our soil, it has long had associations with Suffolk, especially with the Salters as David in particular conducted many of them and today's successful band included former St Mary-le-Tower Ringing Master Simon Rudd.

Hopefully they will have been able to enjoy their Christmas Eve evening in a similar fashion to us - with a mulled wine and a sense of satisfaction on a job well done.

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Friday 23rd December 2022

"Twas the night before Christmas," so the famous seasonal poem goes, "when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."

That may be the case on the 24th December, but after today, I can attest that on 23rd December on the byways and highways of Ipswich and its surrounds, there was plenty of stirring as I spent three hours collecting presents ordered online, picking gifts up from my mother's and doing some shopping both mundane and last minute festive! And it was a little noisier in the abode of our friends Verity and Jade who we visited for a meal and plenty of drink this evening whilst my wife's mother Kate very kindly looked after the boys.

Ashbocking. Badwell Ash. Hunston. Haughley.
Ashbocking, Badwell Ash, Hunston & Haughley

Not unexpectedly, towers across the land were also busy with ringing, including in Cambridgeshire at Meldreth where Blaxhall ringer Mike Cowling and former Bures learner John Loveless were among those ringing in a peal of the appropriately named Xmas Surprise Major, but also here in Suffolk where a 1296 of Norwich Surprise Minor was rung by the FNQPC at Ashbocking, the first quarter-peals since 2014 were rung at Badwell Ash (where Neal Dodge got a very nice message from the churchwarden afterwards) and Hunston and the 450th birthday of the back four at Haughley was marked with a 1260 of Doubles and a footnote that evokes images of those that lived and worked in our rural county in the sixteenth century, at an evocative time of year. Congratulations also to Julian Lees and Neal Dodge on ringing their twenty-fifth quarter together in the latter.

Iken. Tunstall. Orford.
Iken, Tunstall & Orford

Sadly, it might be quieter at the five of Iken, six of Tunstall and eight of Orford though, with the band of ringers who help man these bells in this geographical outpost dwindling in numbers. However, they are being proactive in doing something about it by reaching out in the East Anglian Daily Times with an appeal for more ringers. This is my old neck of the woods and when I lived in Tunstall in my little pink cottage I enjoyed ringing on the gallery-ring there and in one of my favourite spots in the county, Iken, so I really hope they get a good response from this.

Meanwhile, before we went out, I got the chance to listen to a third BBC programme on bells this month, this time on Radio Three in a half-hour episode from Tom Service called 'The bells, the bells..." It only features change-ringing in a relatively short section, mainly from about 13 minutes 30 seconds in, but it was focused on the festive association with the instruments.

Which is appropriate because as ever this is likely to be the last blog entry most will get to read before Christmas Day. Have a lovely day on Sunday and I hope that whether you are ringing on bells cast by names from our distant past like Stephen II Tonne and William Land or in the almost unchanging landscape of the River Alde estuary that you are able to go out and help create the sound that so many associate with their perfect Christmas. Including on the night before...

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Thursday 22nd December 2022

Happy Birthday to Suffolk Guild Public Relations Officer Neal Dodge. Possibly the best thing I did as his predecessor in the role was to suggest to him that he put himself forward as my successor. He has been one of the best PR Officers the SGR has ever had, arguably the best. Certainly better than I was, pleased as I am when I look back on my five-year stint between 2011 and 2016, as he consistently gets local ringing into the media but also increases the public's knowledge and engagement with the art, such as when he's got BBC Radio Suffolk and its listeners following the results of the Guild's striking competitions!

Bardwell.I expect he is used to sharing his celebrations with those for Christmas, as he did with the footnote to today's 1296 of Cambridge Minor at Bardwell which was his first quarter-peal of Surprise as conductor, but was also for the village's carol singing. Well done Neal!

St Mary-le-Tower. On a sadder note, I was sorry to hear of the death of Norfolk ringer Tom Roast. I only came across him occasionally and he only rang two peals for the Suffolk Guild, one of which was my only in the medium with him, but it was a significant one as he trebled faultlessly to the 5280 of Cambridge Surprise Maximus we rang at St Mary-le-Tower in 2008 to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the first peal in the method, which was rung to the same composition in the same tower. That almost half of his peals were rung on twelve is indicative of his skill and reliability on the end of a bellrope.

It was a sombre note on a day otherwise typical of the days just before Christmas, with ours a mixture of the mundane and the festive, although it also included a bit of disappointment too. For after taking Josh to a check-up, we had to go back on a promise to take him to Jump In afterwards when they emailed us to say that they were closed as their CCTV wasn't working, which they apparently need for insurance reasons. Still, with a new date booked, the boys eventually put to bed and Ruthie back from choir practice, we rounded our day off with some gift wrapping. No ringing though.

Still at least our PRO was doing some. Well done Neal and Happy Birthday!

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Wednesday 21st December 2022

A day off work for both Ruthie and me enabled us to fit much in and also some ringing.
Whilst Ruthie sorted out the music for the choir at St Mary-the-Virgin in Woodbridge, the boys and I wandered to Melton Park to meet up with Joshua's classmate Harry and his father Paul.

After a morning apart, our household reconvened for lunch before battling through the throngs at Tesco and Dobbies and then returning home to carry out some of those necessary chores that are less achievable in the average working week. Tea enjoyed and we were off out again, this time to join my mother-in-law Kate, the boys' Grandad Ron and my wife's sister and her family on Seckford Hills, where for the second year running Mrs Eagle very generously treated us all to tickets for Christmas on the Hills, a festive trail lined with lights, decorations and characters such as the Grinch and climaxed with toasted marshmallows and of course a visit to Father Christmas. Thank you Kate!

Food at Pettistree practice (taken by Mike Whitby) Food at Pettistree practice (taken by Mike Whitby) Christmas jumpers! (taken by Mike Whitby)

Even after all of that, there was still time for her to kindly take us to Pettistree's weekly practice, which was preceded by a quarter-peal of Carlisle Surprise Minor and was accompanied by festive jumpers and a spread of food thoughtfully provided by some of the regulars and a gift of a box of chocolates, all of which Alfie and Josh were delighted to see, as were we!

It was lovely for both of us to ring together, which helped contribute to some well-rung Cambridge Surprise Minor and a touch of "messing about" (simply various Doubles and Minor methods spliced) as well as call-changes and Plain Hunt on Five and much in between. We decided to give our livers and children a break and passed on a trip to The Greyhound afterwards, but it was still a lovely evening out.

Cmglee Great St Marys The 1320 at the start of the evening on the ground-floor six was the only ringing from Suffolk to appear on BellBoard today, but not the only ringing from the Guild as a 5045 of Staverton and Blue Sapphire Surprise Royal spliced was rung on the back ten at Great St Mary in Cambridge to celebrate the forty-fifth (Sapphire) anniversary of SGR Chairman Rowan Wilson's first peal, rung on 21st December 1977 at Staverton in Northamptonshire. Congratulations Rowan!

I'm glad someone from the county was peal-ringing as even on this day off I don't think we could've fitted that in too!

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Tuesday 20th December 2022

After it was first broadcast on BBC Radio Four on 8th December, as well as being mentioned on social media, a few people have very kindly mentioned the twenty-seven minute long programme about Taylors, the bell founders of Loughborough we all know so well, but until now I haven't had the opportunity to listen to it.

This evening though, with Ruthie out at her work's Christmas bash and with some present wrapping to be done, I put it on whilst undertaking my festive task and was glad I did.  A large section of it features more about bells than change-ringing, but it includes interviews with George Dawson a Rambling Ringer from my early days with the Society and Michael Uphill, who will be well known by many reading this, with ringing at Putney amongst the many sounds I took in as gifts disappeared under colourful sparkling paper.

As it happens, another programme about bells was also broadcast on the same station this morning and so I also listened to this. Laura Barton's Notes on Music was focused on the cultural aspect of bells, but did also go to All Hallows in Twickenham where Stephen Mitchell gave an insight into the history of the art and gave the presenter a go on a bell.
Both programmes are well worth listening to.

Offton.Whilst I was listening to ringing rather than participating in ringing, others in Suffolk were rather more active, with the practice at Offton preceded as it often is with a quarter-peal. On this occasion the tune was a 1260 of Grandsire Triples on this ground-floor eight, where half the ring comes courtesy of Taylors.

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Monday 19th December 2022

As usual, I was out ringing on a Monday night. Not where I would usually be though.

The new second stay at Woodbridge, next to the old one. Tonight, I was ringing at St Mary-the-Virgin in Woodbridge ahead of Nine Lessons and Carols and was delighted to help them ring all eight, as well as to see a new stay for the second delivered. Although my efforts to get the tenor up the right way didn't go well!

Woolpit.Meanwhile, a quarter-peal of Plain Bob Minor was being rung over forty-three minutes at Woolpit, but my ringing efforts were but a small part of a long evening though. For not only was Ruthie singing in the choir, but as their secretary she had ended up organising their post-service party, coordinating food for this bring and share event and getting things set up in St Mary's House before the service. With my wife rehearsing at that point, it was left to me and the boys to do that, which we were happy to do (the boys were particularly excited to help!), but also grateful for the assistance of others. Despite having done similar for the South-East District ADM at Ufford a few weeks ago, it was quite stressful (especially for Mrs Munnings), but it all worked out alright on the night, with a lovely spread and plenty of drinks for the choir members and their families and it followed a lovely service started by a group of Ukrainians singing native carols and then proceeded with some of the old favourites such as Once in Royal David's City, Away in a Manger, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Silent Night and the usual climax of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, mainly done in candlelight.

St Mary-le-Tower. Of course it all meant that I couldn't go to St Mary-le-Tower's weekly practice, but with no session planned for a week's time on Boxing Day, it was also the last one lined up for 2022 and although there is ringing due to be done there on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, now seems a good moment to thank particularly David Potts, but also Amanda Richmond and Jonathan Williamson for an extraordinary year of ringing on the county's heaviest ring of bells. The last few weeks have flatlined a little (although reading back on my blogs, that's not unusual for here and other places for this time of year), perhaps not helped by the disappointment of being unable to enter the 2023 National 12-bell Striking Contest, but I am still so impressed with how we recovered from the previous two years to become finalists in this year's competition. Of course everyone else had the issues of the pandemic to overcome, but most of those we were competing against had much greater strength in depth being in big cities and/or able to call upon a vast pool of ringers. Thanks to David's leadership though, we from this relative geographical outpost enjoyed two magnificent days out at The Norman Tower and at Guildford Cathedral, whilst it is important to note the positive effect that our entry and practicing had generally on the standard of ringing and atmosphere throughout our merry band ringing here, whether they were in the contest band or not. And whilst it was also lovely to win the Mitson Shield and the Rose Trophy in Guild Six-Bell and Eight-Bell Striking Competitions at Blythburgh in May and Offton in September respectively, it has been the sheer joy of being able to return to unfettered, unlimited (within reasonable boundaries at least!) ringing on this twelve with the gratefully-received support of a young, extremely supportive vicar in the Reverend Tom Mumford has possibly been the biggest pleasure. God willing we can pick things up again in 2023 and as always, we would be so appreciative of any support and delighted to welcome anyone looking to progress onto ten and twelve-bell ringing.

Where all being well you should find me in my usual place on a Monday evening.

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Sunday 18th December 2022

CCCBR President Simon Linford's latest blog fits in much as usual, such as the launch of the 'Bluebell's Challenge' for Girl Guides which is worthy on so many levels and the background to the Central Council's new publication 'From Practice to Perfect'. However, he ends by reiterating how important the sound of ringing is to many people's Christmas.

Not that we were contributing to that today. Last night, Josh complained of feeling poorly and his temperature was a bit higher than we would like. For some reason he has a habit of occasionally doing this (not intentionally of course!), where his temperature fluctuates for twenty-fours or so, worries us and then goes back to normal and sure enough his temperature was back down again this morning. Not enough to completely reassure us though and so I stayed at home in the warm with him and Alfie instead of going out ringing whilst their mother went singing at St Mary-the-Virgin in Woodbridge.

Great Bealings.Indeed, Alfred, Joshua and I didn't leave the house (bar AJM and me briefly popping to the shops) all day, although at least we had one of the greatest men's football World Cup Finals in history on the TV to keep us occupied. And whilst Ruthie later sang for the Carol Service at Great Bealings where the 7cwt five are hung dead, even she didn't do any ringing as she went out and about.

Other ringers in Suffolk were more active in the exercise though, especially Nathan Colman who was ringing his first quarter-peal of Stedman Cinques in the 1311 at The Norman Tower. Well done Nathan! Meanwhile, there was also a 1260 of five Doubles methods at Pettistree for their Carol Service, as the county's ringers continued to provide the sound of people's Christmas.

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Saturday 17th December 2022

After being restricted to varying degrees over the last couple of years, the Christmas Ringing in Ipswich returned to a full-on occasion today. As it has done over the years, it has evolved from originally being a walking outing around the town centre's towers organised by Ralph Earey and for some time involved all the bells of the town ringing simultaneously, all largely very successfully.

It's format today seemed to work extremely well too. Not all the rings of bells were available, as has often been the case at various points. St Mary at Quay's 7cwt six have been out of action since the ringing chamber was turned into an office full of furniture when Suffolk Mind completed an otherwise excellent refurbishment of the ancient building, although last year it became River Church, so God willing they'll be available again in the near future. St Stephen's meanwhile became an unringable three before it ceased to be the town's Tourist Information Centre in 2020 and with tenants still being sought, it seems unlikely to change anytime soon.

St Lawrence. However, despite St Nicholas being up for sale having been a community hub run by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich since 2005, the 10cwt five were rung this morning and although we didn't get into the county town soon enough to ring there or at St Matthew's earlier, we parked up to the sound of St Lawrence's ancient bells ringing out across the heaving crowds of festive shoppers in the streets around.

Full ringing chamber at St Mary-le-Tower. We were there to ring at St Mary-le-Tower for the event. It was absolutely fantastic to see the famous ringing chamber rammed with familiar and new faces from across Suffolk and beyond, including a number of youngsters who did tremendously well. Brilliant as this was, it does present challenges for those running the ringing, which I remember well from Guild AGMs. You're determined that everyone gets a fair go whilst also ensuring that bands are capable of doing what is being asked of them, which is difficult enough without being faced with lots of people you don't know! Usual Ringing Master here David Potts therefore did a great job of making sure all had a ring whilst getting some nice Grandsire Cinques, Little Bob Maximus and call-changes on twelve. We'd be delighted to see our visitors back up here!

At St Margaret's for refreshments. (Katharine Salter). Leaving afterwards, the sound of St Margaret's bells were calling us there for refreshments in the church being put on as usual by the ringers of the 14cwt gallery-ring eight - thank you very much to them again. A group photo was taken by SGR RM Katharine Salter who had organised things so magnificently before some wandered over to St Clement's, whilst we paid our respects to my paternal grandparents Lilian & Jack whose ashes are overlooked by the tower and took the boys to the cafe at St Lawrence for some lunch, our ringing for the day done.

The quarter-peal band at St Lawrence (Mike Whitby). Or so we thought. For as we sat waiting for our sustenance, the band due to ring a quarter-peal there began arriving and with one of them not feeling too well, we were approached for one of us to ring in their place. Ruthie volunteered and so once food was consumed she joined the band to ring a 1260 of Doubles as we initially watch on from down below and then did a bit of seasonal shopping with my wife's ringing as a very public backdrop. It perfectly demonstrated what a wonderful PR tool this ring of bells is. They aren't so loud as to drown out conversation amongst diners, but can be heard and of course the gallery from which they're rung from means everyone can see the ringers. And whilst we were there, plenty were intrigued!

Afterwards, before Ruthie went to the Methodist Church in Woodbridge to sing with Illuminati, we visited Aunty Marian, sister of my late father Alan. These days she is in a care home in the town and being very well looked after, but if we're honest we haven't been to see her as often as we should've. In part that has been down to us being as busy as one might expect of two working parents of young children who also happen to be heavily involved in ringing and - in Mrs Munnings' case - singing, especially since December has appeared, but also because we have been wary of taking any illness into this particularly vulnerable setting with a seemingly endless stream of bugs and grot going through almost everyone we know (including us!) over the last couple of months. Ironic perhaps therefore that we arrived to find her suffering quite a heavy cold herself and clearly quite tired and so didn't spend too long there. Still, we were able to update this former ringer with our ringing recent, current and planned.

Including that full-on return to Christmas Ringing in Ipswich.

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Friday 16th December 2022

Today was festive.

The John Catt Educational Christmas meal at the Coach & Horses saw turkey eaten, crackers pulled and party hats worn. And of course drinking.

Leiston.Elsewhere in Suffolk meanwhile, a 5184 of Cambridge Surprise Major was rung for the Guild on the 20cwt gallery-ring eight of Leiston, a peal that we heard about later from the ringer of the fourth Simon Rudd at his weekly virtual pub this evening.

Before that, Ruthie and the boys joined me for a drink or two at the end of the meal and quiz and afterwards we watched 'A Muppets Christmas Carol'.

As I said, today was festive.

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Thursday 15th December 2022

Cavendish.Temperatures plumbed the deaths of -9 degrees centigrade overnight at Cavendish apparently, where it must have been bone-chilling up amongst the 11cwt six! Of course, it is chilly in many ringing chambers too and the icy conditions that we have been gingerly walking on for several days has also seen Woodbridge's practice earlier this week cancelled and accounted for at least one ringer cracking a rib (and possibly another ringer doing the same) that I know of. Hopefully it won't put too many off ringing in the coming days, such as the Christmas Ringing planned around Ipswich on Saturday where I imagine the roads and pavements will be gritted if needed, whilst the forecasters suggest that the weekend should see the start of quite a significant thaw.

Richy's eBells.Nonetheless, this evening seemed to be a good one to be doing my ringing from the warmth of our sofa, albeit in different circumstances I would've chosen going out to ring on real bells. With Ruthie out at her usual choir practices with the car and me happily looking after the boys on a school night though, my only option tonight was to get my eBells out and after having been largely preoccupied with World Cup football in recent weeks, I took advantage of the break between the semi-finals of earlier this week and the final planned for Sunday to reacquaint myself with ringing Yorkshire Surprise Major on 7-8. Reassuringly, I was able to do this first-time, although it still isn't what one would regard as cleanly-rung and was mentally exhausting for my little ol' brain compared to ringing it on a single towerbell and so I stopped there and then on this occasion, satisfied.

Which at least gives me something ringing-related for this blog entry with nothing from Suffolk's bells on BellBoard today. Perhaps it's too cold for everyone.

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Wednesday 14th December 2022

St John's tower (spire) - - 2120450 St John's in Woodbridge is a church without bells hung for change-ringing, although apparently a light six was mooted many years ago for this tower with a spire, but never got any further than being an idea. Therefore, despite it being a building I have often walked past and once even lived a few hundred yards away from at one time, I have only been inside once before. That was five years ago when Mason performed a Christmas concert with his primary school classmates on a night of sugar-coated seasonal magic from the now teenager who is growing up to be a fine young man but is considerably less adorable than he was then!

This evening, I stepped inside this familiar local landmark for just the second time in my life for exactly the same reason, but this time for Alfie. The shifting sands of time and all that. This time I was accompanied in watching by Joshua and of course Ruthie, who herself impressed some of our fellow parents with her singing when she went up the front for the climax of 'O Come, All Ye Faithful'! There was a very nice rendition of 'Silent Night' played on handbells, whilst amongst other well received content, Alfred and his year-group sang 'Ring Christmas Bells' and generally did brilliantly to cap a couple of superb performances from him and his brother yesterday and today.

Although it meant that AJM had to forgo his usual Wednesday football training, with the concert brought forward last week to avoid a clash with a potential England World Cup semi-final and then the subsequent failure of the Three Lions to make it this far, there was still time for my wife to pop to another choir practice up the hill at St Mary-the-Virgin, return home for tea and then to be picked up by her mother Kate for the weekly session on the ground-floor six at Pettistree and then a drink at The Greyhound afterwards.

Beforehand my mother-in-law rang in a quarter-peal of London Surprise Minor for the birthday of Elaine Townsend, who was also ringing and brought cake (which made it back to ours - thank you Elaine!) to a practice where Mrs Munnings rang an typically eclectic method repertoire that ranged from Doubles of the Plain Bob and Grandsire varieties to Carlisle and Durham Surprise Minor (the latter of which she conducted), before leading the bells down.

None of which she could do at St John's in Woodbridge.

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Tuesday 13th December 2022

Josh is an often shy boy and gives the impression that he isn't always concentrating, with much information needing to be imparted multiple times. Yet today he stood in front a crowded school hall as a wise man in his class nativity and spoke his three lines clearly and confidently completely from memory. He was chuffed and we were so impressed.

St Matthew. St Nicholas. St Lawrence. St Margaret. St Mary-le-Tower. St Clement.
St Matthew, St Nicholas, St Lawrence, St Margaret, St Mary-le-Tower & St Clement

It was an adorable rendering of the story behind the real meaning of Christmas and a good moment to remind people that this Saturday is due to be the seasonal ringing around Ipswich where ringing is planned at St Matthew's between 9.45 and 10.15am, the fives at the redundant churches of St Nicholas & St Lawrence between 10.30 and 11am and the eight of St Margaret's & twelve of St Mary-le-Tower between 11.15 and 11.45am before refreshments at St Margaret's and then ringing at St Clement's between 12.30 and 1pm. All are welcome at any or all of the towers and there will be a repertoire to suit whoever is there - the main thing is that we make a nice noise as part of people's seasonal shopping in the town centre, whether that is call changes or Surprise Maximus. Please do come along if you can.

Meanwhile, having imparted in Sunday's blog that ringing on Suffolk's heaviest twelve was going to be from 9.45-10.30 this Sunday, it was revealed today that there was a mix-up in the church's calendar and that in fact there is a service at 9.30am and so therefore ringing will be at the normal time from 8.45am, although we have been requested to ring from 10.15-10.30am for their Crib Service as well.

Looking further ahead and more broadly, the CCCBR's website has shared details about a project which has echoes of the Symphony of Bells project that many will recall taking part in in the county town in the summer of 2011. This particular project is titled Summoned By Bells, inspired by John Betjeman's famous poem and would involve being part of music performances of folk and jazz. Do take a look and consider if it might be a different way of recruiting ringers (which is what the project hopes to encourage) and if it is, then let the organiser Chris Hodgkins know directly on by 16th January.

Ruthie was doing some more conventional ringing this evening as she joined her mother Kate at Ufford's weekly practice, whilst elsewhere within our borders, Keith Dennis was ringing his first quarter-peal of Grandsire in the 1260 of the Doubles variant at Halesworth. Well done Keith!

And well done Josh!

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Monday 12th December 2022

Typically I leave a few days of annual leave available as I work through the seasons, just in case I need to unexpectedly take some time off for whatever reason. However, we are now at that time of year when I need to use it up and so with Ruthie off today and the boys at school I took a day's holiday on this icy Monday to get stuff done that we can't easily do with our sons with us. With twelve days before Father Christmas is due to descend our chimneys, on this occasion that meant shopping and lots of it!

Having taken the boys into their seat of learning, we allowed ourselves a cooked breakfast at Dobbies before going into the shop, travelled to Argos, Sainsbury's, Sports Direct, Tesco and Next in less interesting alternative to a ringing outing!

Even though we managed a cuppa at home afterwards, our hectic day wasn't finished yet as we collected Alfie and Joshua from their day's education, returned to our abode for them to change and were then out the door straightaway to take Alfred to a birthday party at Jump In on the Anglia Retail Park. Whilst he was partying with his peers, we took his younger brother to nearby Burger King for tea and then to Dunelm, Smyths and Asda for yet more shopping and then with AJM picked up once again traversed back to Melton.

St Mary-le-Tower. For all that, there was still time for me to make it to St Mary-le-Tower's weekly practice, but only just, as once I dropped my family off I was immediately back on the road to Ipswich, where was more twelve-bell focus, particularly on Grandsire Cinques and Cambridge Surprise Maximus during a session climaxed by our usual post-ringing refreshment in the Halberd Inn.

I needed a drink after an exhausting - though thoroughly enjoyable - day off!

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Sunday 11th December 2022

Frost covered bare branches, glistening fields and the tops of woodlands shrouded in fog. Mornings like this remind me how blessed we are to live in Suffolk, when the simple act of travelling to service ringing presents us with scenes such as these.

St Mary-le-Tower. Grundisburgh. Hasketon. Clopton.
St Mary-le-Tower, Grundisburgh, Hasketon & Clopton

That said, the -8 temperatures that created this festive winter wonderland had also meant that I had to de-ice the car, which in itself left us tight for time to get into Ipswich, but was compounded when I returned inside to find that the boys hadn't really progressed in getting dressed. Eventually I did get to St Mary-le-Tower to be of some use to the ringing and then to join my fellow ringers in post-ringing refreshments at Costa Coffee, before Mason, Alfie, Joshua and myself travelled across some more of that frozen countryside to Grundisburgh. They were a little short this Sunday with one regular resting at home with a cracked rib and others away and so I made a special effort to make it out to the county's lightest twelve, but they would be appreciative of help over the next couple of weeks of festive ringing, including at this Thursday's practice where the intention to have mince pies and mulled wine might offer extra motivation! As part of their duties to the wider benefice, they also have planned ringing at Hasketon from 5.30pm for a 6pm Carol Service next Sunday and at Clopton on Christmas Eve for the same times, as well as for Midnight Mass at the aforementioned little wobbly red brick tower between 11-11.30pm.

Woodbridge.They aren't the only towers that we ring at regularly that if all goes to plan have extra, changed and/or cancelled ringing between now and the end of 2022 is due to end. Woodbridge intend to ring for their Carol Service between 6-30pm on Monday 19th and then from 3.30-4pm on the 24th for their Crib Service and whilst understandably there won't be a practice at St Mary-le-Tower on Boxing Day, there is ringing slated for 6-7pm on the night before Christmas (before the creatures in the house stop stirring, even the mice) for their Carol Service. And it is worth noting that in a week and then on Christmas Day, ringing is planned to run an hour later than usual for the Sabbath morn from 9.45-10.30am (Correction - ringing will be at the normal time of 8.45am).

Nice as any extra help at any of those towers would be, my main purpose of highlighting these programmes is to remind all readers (though I'm sure you don't need it!) to check with your local bands about seasonal changes to the usual ringing calendar.

Ufford. Ruthie and I were doing a bit of that seasonal ringing this evening at Ufford for their Carol Service, where a decent crowd allowed for much ringing on eight, including unusually Grandsire Doubles on the middle bells with 1-2 beneath and the tenor behind which focused the mind and produced some very decent ringing!

That had followed a fun afternoon courtesy of the 13cwt eight's Ringing Master Kate, who had very kindly taken us, the boys and my wife's sister and her household to The Suffolk Punch Trust near Hollesley to see Father Christmas and where we also bumped into Pettistree ringers Pippa Moss and Mike Whitby, before we returned to my wife's mother's for some tea. Thank you Kate!

Aldeburgh.While we were enjoying the fun of the farm, the usual second Sunday peal at Aldeburgh was being rung, on this occasion of Southwell Surprise Major, a variation of Cambridge Surprise Major, just different enough to ensure concentration but familiar enough to encourage relaxed ringing and therefore hopefully good striking. I imagine it was a tremendous effort.

Hopefully the band felt fortunate to traverse our beautiful countryside to get there on this frosty day.

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Saturday 10th December 2022

I suppose the closest ringing analogy is going for two peals in a day, scoring the first one and then losing the second. The first was a rather more important one, perhaps a local band effort for a special occasion. The second maybe an indulgence, spliced or something like that. Ultimately, the main one was successful and so despite the disappointment of the later loss, it was still a good day.

Portman Road for Ipswich v Peterborough on a cold, sunny lunchtime match. The Christmas tree in Ipswich town centre. Today was a day of football and although the cancellation of Alfie's match due to a frozen pitch meant there wasn't as much of it as there was supposed to be, we still enjoyed watching Ipswich Town's 2-1 win over Peterborough United that took us top of the table again, before returning home and welcoming Ruthie's sister Clare and her boyfriend Chris and the boys' cousins to watch England get knocked out of the World Cup in Qatar by France by the same scoreline. The former was definitely the more important as our local team who we follow every week and watch in person regularly, whose players we have met, with this lunchtime event seeing us meet up with lots of friends of ours and the boys as well as seeing Father Christmas and a town centre bedecked with lights, a tree and even an ice rink. Meanwhile, fond as we are of the national team who have again done very well at a tournament and enthralled the boys, they are an occasional indulgence if truth be told, a bunch of pros we are unlikely to meet and who - despite the Tractor Boys' current chart-topping form - we probably won't see playing at Portman Road anytime soon, performing in a far off land. Therefore, today was still a good day.

Packenham. I can't say if there were any ringing losses in Suffolk today as of course they don't appear on BellBoard, but there were certainly ringing successes in the county, with Andrea Alderton, Maureen Gardiner and Neal Dodge ringing their first quarter-peal of Double Oxford variant Winchester College Bob Minor in the 1260 at Pakenham after the North-West District Christmas Practice on the 12cwt anti-clockwise six in the central tower there. Well done Andrea, Maureen and Neal!

Horringer. Horringer Angel.There were also a brace of peals. One was a 5056 of Yorkshire Surprise Major rung at Horringer for the Angel Festival at St Leonard's church by the gates to Ickworth House and featuring an impressive looking contribution created by Tower Captain Sally Crouch. It was also Guild Peal Secretary Christine Knight's five hundredth peal for the SGR. Congratulations Christine!

The other was a very special 5000 of St Edmund's Abbey Surprise Royal rung at The Norman Tower as a part of the culmination of the 'Abbey 1000' celebrations, a method of no little complexity, so well done to all involved.

I'd say that all in all, it was a good day.

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Friday 9th December 2022

Tostock. Kersey.Well done to the entire band on ringing their first quarter-peal of the not-too-simple Treble Bob Minor method Norton-le-Moors in the 1320 at Tostock today and also to Joanne Crouch on her first QP of Plain Bob Doubles inside in the 1260 at Kersey yesterday.

No such activity for us on an altogether quieter - freezing - day from a ringing perspective though or even any other perspective. Good job others were doing some ringing worthy of mention therefore.

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Thursday 8th December 2022

Yesterday, Guild Chairman Rowan Wilson sent an email to members via the Webmaster Chris Garner, giving more detail about the SGR's centenary celebrations planned for 2023.

Hopefully everyone should be aware of the Dinner due to take place on Saturday 25th March at Ashlar House in Bury St Edmunds and tickets are apparently already selling well, so be sure to get yours sooner rather than later, especially with the discounted price of £55 if bought before the end of next month.

Becles.However, there is a call for as many members as possible to come along to the AGM lined up for Beccles on Saturday 15th April where the intention is to take a members' photo that God willing will be a snapshot of the membership to be looked back at for years to come. Make sure you're there to be part of history!

There is also 'Challenge 100' where members are encouraged to set themselves challenges or mark milestones, with the hope that the Guild hands out one hundred special certificates for such achievements, so get thinking what you could do!

Additionally, there is lined up to be a Guild takeover of an issue of The Ringing World, special badges and certificates for new members and (my favourite!) a Centenary bottled beer! All very exciting.

From a ringing perspective, it should certainly be more exciting than our day, which was largely taken up by school, work and Ruthie's choir practice and in between an operation to get our car's brake light replaced in the freezing cold that didn't go entirely to plan!

Meanwhile, it has been a busy week of announcements on the CCCBR website and their PR Officer and one-time Ipswich ringer Vicki Chapman who was behind most of them. Monday saw them celebrating International Volunteers Day, Tuesday highlighting the National Bell Festival slated for New Year's Eve, yesterday announcing a talk by David Bagley on bells in towers under the Churches Conservation Trust penciled in for exactly a week on 15th December between 12.50 and 2pm, whilst today President Simon Linford was promoting a book called 'From Practice to Perfect', which is aimed at increasing understanding of the exercise amongst clergy, PCCs and safeguarding advisors. It seems to have been put together extremely professionally and is well worth a read.

Troston.Worth a watch meanwhile is the video of the first ringing on six at Troston for over sixty years, which I found on Bardwell Ringers Facebook page. They sound a lovely little ring and reports suggest that they handle easily and aren't flighty and are due to be the location for the SGR Six-Bell Striking Competitions on Saturday 20th May for what is intended to be another highlight of the Guild's centenary celebrations!

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Wednesday 7th December 2022

For the second week running we finally got the previous week's issue of The Ringing World halfway through the week after the week it was published in, although it at least arrived earlier this week than last week when it arrived at the end of the week, which meant that I could take last week's and the one from the week before to this week's weekly practice at Pettistree. Hopefully it doesn't take you until next week to work out that paragraph. Hopefully also postal strikes will be resolved and give the RW a fighting chance of reaching us quicker!

I did get the opportunity to have a read of it before I handed it over and although there was little specifically Suffolk-related, there was again lots of interesting content not readily available online, including a report on the Ancient Society of College Youths Anniversary Dinner that we and a number of other ringers from the county attended just over a month ago.

Elveden. Ixworth. Pettistree.
Elveden, Ixworth & Pettistree

All being well, future editions of the journal will feature three quarter-peals rung today within our borders with Uxbridge Surprise Major rung at Elveden, six Surprise Major methods spliced at Ixworth and Bourne Surprise Minor before that aforementioned practice which I joined after Alfie's football training and picking Ruthie up from an extra choir practice at St Mary-the-Virgin in Woodbridge as things get busy for singers as well as ringers.

The session was a decent one too, from more trebling to Plain Hunt on Five and Plain Bob Doubles for John Horsnell and Grandsire Doubles for Sam Shannon to Surprise Minor in the form of Norwich and a very well rung course of Carlisle before I retired to The Greyhound for a drink with mother-in-law Kate Eagle and the Garners. The latter for the second week running.

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Tuesday 6th December 2022

Ufford. A return to Ufford practice tonight, with returning ringer Kay having a recap handling lesson with Peter Harper, Daniel Atkinson picked up trebling to Plain Bob Doubles again and to St Martin's & St Simon's Bob Doubles spliced and Margaret Weeks did the same to Cambridge Surprise Minor, in the process coming up with the Treble Bob dance with Elaine Townsend which I imagine will soon be doing the rounds in the nightclubs of Ufford. And Ringing Master and mother-in-law Kate Eagle had to take some action photos for the village magazine after ones taken at Saturday's South-East District ADM didn't come out very well. Unlucky to anyone present here three days ago who thought their moment of fame was forthcoming!

Ruthie was lined up to go along now that the Great British Bake Off has finished occupying her Tuesday evenings, but a heavy workload prevented her from coming out. Therefore our evening was topped off with Kate popping round ours for a cup of tea, but otherwise there wasn't anything of note happening on Suffolk's bells today, or at least nothing noted on BellBoard or anywhere else that I could see.

Thank goodness for the return of Ufford's practice.

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Monday 5th December 2022

The Christmas tree jungle at the bottom of the stairs at St Mary-le-Tower! The Christmas tree jungle at the bottom of the stairs at St Mary-le-Tower!
The Christmas tree jungle at the bottom of the stairs at St Mary-le-Tower!

Whilst someone warming a mince pie in the microwave at work this afternoon unexpectedly nearly smoked us out and set the fire alarms off in an incident that saw no one in danger and was far less dramatic than it sounds, there was mercifully not so much drama at St Mary-le-Tower's practice this evening, although in order to get to the stairs up to the ringing chamber, we had to negotiate a jungle of Christmas trees left over at the bottom of the tower from the just-finished Christmas Tree Festival and on the first piece on twelve tonight we pulled off with the wrong second!

However, it should be better remembered as a very productive session, that began with George Heath-Collins and Sonia Docherty trebling and ringing inside respectively very well to Plain Bob Doubles, whilst new Guild member Judy Stephenson rang rounds on twelve, before most of the practice was given over to Cinques and Maximus. There was some Grandsire which Sue Williamson rang superbly inside to, whilst she and Abby Antrobus hopefully found the Stedman Cinques a useful experience and there was some good ringing in the Cambridge Surprise we rang. The more we ring of it, the better we should ring it and this was a good evening.

A good evening topped off with a drink in the Halberd Inn, while thousands of miles away in the Beagle Channel alongside the coast of the Argentinian province of Tierra del Fuego, one-time Bures learner John Loveless and his wife Linda Garton were ringing a 5040 of Minor on handbells with occasional St Mary-le-Tower ringer David Sparling, which means that John & Linda have now rung a peal in every continent. Congratulations to them! Nice as well that it was dedicated to the late Roger Bailey, a star of the exercise who used to join us on Suffolk's heaviest twelve every Christmas Day as he had family in the area and also rang in the Guild's first and thus far only peal on fourteen in the 5096 of Yorkshire Surprise at Winchester Cathedral in 2008.

Meanwhile, there was another SGR peal being rung beyond our borders today, although not as far as Hampshire or South America. Rather a 5040 of Southwell Surprise Royal on the 22cwt ten of Higham Ferrers in Northamptonshire which was the two hundredth peal on the bells.

Sudbury, St Gregory. Closer to home and yesterday, the first quarter-peal at St Gregory in Sudbury was rung since their restoration and rehanging by the same band as rang the last one there earlier this year.

Hopefully there was no drama involved!

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Sunday 4th December 2022

In the midst of the men's football World Cup in Qatar where England qualified for the quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over Senegal that we enjoyed watching on TV this evening, the draw for another big competition was made. Well, big for bellringing anyway, the biggest in fact, as the line-ups for the three eliminators of the 2023 National 12-bell Striking Contest were announced.

At Cheltenham, the team who have won the competition more than everyone else combined and regained the Taylor Trophy at Guildford Cathedral earlier this year, Birmingham, join previous winners Exeter, both of whom should progress to the Final due to take place at Sheffield Cathedral on Saturday 24th June. However, Bristol, Southwark and Towcester will all have reasonable expectations of claiming the other spot in the summer's big finale, whilst perhaps Chilcompton will spring a surprise after decent showings in their trio of eliminators thus far. And never rule out hosts on their own bells.

The same goes for Hursley on their 13cwt twelve, although they do have more experience than those from the 21cwt twelve in Gloucestershire. Nonetheless, from their group one would imagine that two of the three qualifying spots for 24/6/2023 will be taken by a trio from usual finalists the College Youths and Cambridge, with the last spot probably 'fought' over by regulars Guildford, Oxford and St Paul's Cathedral. Don't discount Portsmouth though, who must be familiar with the light Hampshire twelve in a similar way to what we were with The Norman Tower nine months ago.

Melbourne have qualified for the last twelve finals, so one imagines they will be favourites to get through from the eliminator on home turf, but they will almost certainly have stiff competition from Leeds looking to make up for the disappointment of having to drop out of this year's contest, the Cumberlands and the return of York, although of course a lot has changed at the famous Minster since they last entered in 2016. Wimborne will have also gained valuable experience from entries in 2018 and back in March and our friends from Norwich have a decent pedigree in recent years.

It should hopefully make for another exciting competition, but it is noticeable that following this year's success, there is sadly no entry from Suffolk. I can't speak for the Bury St Edmunds band who so brilliantly held an eliminator in the latest contest, but Ipswich's entry was scuppered by the unfortunate clash of this and the Guild Dinner on Saturday 25th March. Understandably, many in the band - ourselves included - wanted to attend the once-in-a-lifetime celebration of the SGR's centenary that so much effort has gone into, as well as ring in a competition we had so memorably reached the final of in June, but it was also understandably undesirable for too many to potentially ring around 150 miles away and then get back and suitably prepared for such a special occasion in a matter of a few hours. Unfortunately there are others formerly of this county who would like to attend and involved with teams that are entering the 12-bell who will also have a difficult decision to make. There have been admirable efforts behind the scenes from all parties involved to make it possible to do both but ultimately it is just one of those things and hopefully spurs us on to enter the 2024 contest.

Perhaps there might be some twelve-bell ringing of some sort within our borders on a big day for the Suffolk Guild, but there was none for Ruthie or me today as I rang at Woodbridge before joining the service where Alfie reluctantly dressed as 'Bishop Nicholas' but admirably agreed and went along with, before we left my wife to practice for an evensong she later returned to St Mary-the-Virgin's church for, as we wandered down the hill to the Christmas Street Fair in town where the boys made some considered choices and I tried to win a magnum of wine and failed.

I'm glad the England team were getting on better at competing than me today!

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Saturday 3rd December 2022

A very enjoyable day.

As ever we were very grateful to my mother Sally for putting us and the boys up overnight following the St Mary-le-Tower curry night yesterday and once we'd awoken, we were also grateful for breakfast and an unusually leisurely Saturday morning. With no fixture for Alfie's football team, we didn't need to rush off and so having enjoyed a relaxing cuppa, we helped Mum get her festive decorations down from the loft and put her Christmas tree up.

Talking of Christmas trees, we also hadn't committed to ringing in the brace of quarter-peals at St Mary-le-Tower for the church's Christmas Tree Festival, but whilst we were delighted to see the 1280 of eight Surprise Major methods spliced and 1282 of Cambridge Surprise Major successfully rung on the front eight, we needed to prepare for something else. For Ufford was hosting the South-East District ADM, the first time it had been held in person since 2019 when the SE descended upon Debenham, so food and caffeine was needed. With Ruthie's mother and Ringing Master at the 13cwt eight Kate not around, it fell to my wife and I to take names for tea, get the food and other refreshments, open St Mary's Parish Hall, switch the heating on, get the tables and chairs out and begin preparing sandwiches.

Ufford. Ringing at Ufford at the SE ADM. Ufford church and St Mary's Parish Hall. Lots of food for the SE ADM! Enjoying the tea in St Mary's Parish Hall in Ufford. SE ADM in St Mary's Parish Hall in Ufford. Washing up & tidying up helpers!
SE District ADM

Thankfully we had help, with many extremely generously supplying food too and we were particularly grateful to Elaine Townsend and Chris & Mary Garner for their assistance in setting up, putting things out and serving hot drinks, which also allowed for me to open up the ringing chamber and ring in an extremely well-rung touch of Stedman Triples called by Past District & Guild RM Tom Scase and Ruthie to ring in some Yorkshire Surprise Major. And afterwards there was much help in washing up and tidying up. It was all greatly appreciated.

Info on Ufford's bells on the walls of St Mary's Parish Hall. Info on Ufford's bells on the walls of St Mary's Parish Hall. Info on Ufford's bells on the walls of St Mary's Parish Hall. Info on Ufford's bells on the walls of St Mary's Parish Hall.
Info on Ufford's bells on the walls of St Mary's Parish Hall

The Reverend Paul Hambling followed up very kindly taking the service with saying grace and joining us all for tea, before I took my better half to nearby Melton Old Church to sing with her fellow Illuminati choristers in a concert and returned for the meeting, which allowed us to hear about what has been going on around the District, such as the five new recruits at Bredfield. That is in addition to the impressive recruitment at places like Bramford and Woodbridge, whilst there were five new members elected this afternoon, including Judy and Lorna from St Matthew's in Ipswich who were in attendance to be presented with their welcome pack by SGR Ringing Master Katharine Salter. There was also news on plans for 2023, including what could be done when the Central Council AGM is due to come to Ipswich on the first weekend of September when we'd usually be meeting and that it is proposed for the District Striking Competitions to be moved to Saturday 3rd June from their original date of 6th May when Charles III's coronation is slated for. And we were given another reminder of the Christmas ringing round the county town planned for a fortnight's time. All in all a useful and enjoyable day, at least to look back on!

Whilst this was going on, everyone was also given a copy of the Guild survey to fill in. For all the talk nationally about the usefulness of territorial ringing organisations such as ours, I think the SGR is still important, especially in a vast rural county like ours. Undoubtedly individual towers and groups would still thrive without it and there are areas where they do work better, but I think there would be lots of ringers and bands lost if the Guild wasn't there offering a network of ringers, expertise, finance and support. However, I'm sure there are ways we could be doing things more effectively and we need to find out how we can do that and what better way than asking them? Please do fill it out if you get the opportunity and seek it out if you don't.

God willing we can provide more days that members will enjoy as much as we enjoyed today.

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Friday 2nd December 2022

St Mary-le-Tower ringers in the beer garden at the Halberd Inn. It isn't a festive meal, but the annual St Mary-le-Tower ringers curry on the first Friday of December often feels part of the season. Advent calendars opened earlier and Ruthie and the boys fresh from going to their school's Christmas Fair, we approached my childhood home in the almost unchanging estates of Ipswich, 'Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time' by Paul McCartney playing on the radio. With the boys left with my mother Sally who was very kindly looking after them and then putting us up for the night, we made the brisk walk into the town centre via the streets of my youth, an increasing number of the familiar houses bedecked with decorations and lights until we arrived at the Halberd Inn for the usual pre-curry drinks, although with the pub packed with football fans about to watch Ipswich Town's latest frustrating home draw, we were in a couple of the 'pods' in the beer garden.

There was the usual rush to get a pint or two in before striding on to the now traditional venue for food, the Maharani on Norwich Road where once again we were looked after magnificently and inevitably the conversation - amongst other subjects - turned to plans for the 25th, especially those of the Brays and Culhams who we were sat next to at this exciting time for them. Thank you to Amanda Richmond for organising it with a 20+ crowd present.

Either side of our meal we were joined by former St Mary-le-Tower Ringing Master Simon Rudd for a drink with him going to Portman Road for that aforementioned footy fixture in between on a busy day for this now Norwich ringer, as he rang in a Suffolk Guild peal of Bristol Surprise Major at Great Holland in Essex which was twice Past SGR RM Stephen Pettman's 1700th peal and his 750th of Major. Congratulations Stephen, someone who has for many years combined his peal-ringing with teaching and progressing ringers, including my wife.

Although there was no time to read it after work with our immediate departure to Ipswich, I did get the chance to read last week's edition of The Ringing World, which due to the numerous recent postal strikes only arrived this morning. Hopefully we'll get the festive edition in time for the festive period, especially as we felt we had started that festive period this evening.

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Thursday 1st December 2022

Apparently the reason we associate snow with Christmas, even though it hardly ever snows at this time of year, is because the seasonal stories of Charles Dickens features tons of the white stuff due - it is believed - to snow falling on the first eight 25th Decembers of his life. Those first few Christmastides often set the tone for future ones. For me Christmas and Advent - and more specifically December - leading up to it are a special time of ringing for and attending carol services and the like, enjoying the original story of the season, gathering with family and eating too much.

Our Christmas tree! Of course, Alfie and Josh are in those early formative years of course, the magic of the season still alive and well and so it was a joy to put our Christmas tree up tonight and bar draping the lights over it and readjusting the tinsel they had thrown over at the highest point they could reach, I watched on as they excitedly did the rest of the decorating. God willing it will give them happy Christmas memories for many years to come.

Earlier we had been to the boys' school for their parents evening, both of which were very positive, with Alfred's mathematics really coming along (I'll see if he wants to come up with some compositions) and Joshua also progressing, with his confidence building, including talking in front of the class (we'll see if he'll call his brother's compositions).

Wonderful as that all was, it did mean another Thursday evening without getting the chance to ring on my eBells on a day when there was nothing reported on BellBoard from Suffolk's bells, although I imagine there was still much going on at the county's practices. After all, there wasn't any snow to stop them.

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Wednesday 30th November 2022

Whilst Alfie was doing football training with his teammates, Ruthie and I discovered we were the only two of the band of parents we were with who could touch our toes with our fingers with both feet on the ground. It got us wondering if perhaps a life of ringing and stretching up at backstrokes (neither of us have ever been blessed with height!) since we were youngsters had given us longer arms!

Pettistree.If that is the case, mine got a bit more of a stretch later in the evening as I went to Pettistree's weekly practice, especially as I spent much of it on the fifth! As has become the norm on Wednesday nights now, I was quite late, but I was still able to contribute to an eclectic session that ranged from Plain Hunt on Five to Surprise Minor of the Cambridge, London, Norwich & Westminster variety, as well as some spliced too, with lots of very good ringing along the way. All topped by a quick drink in The Greyhound afterwards where we discovered Wickham Market Ringing Master Ray Lewis!

Troston.Meanwhile, it was exciting to see photos from PR Officer Neal Dodge on the SGR Facebook page of the work going on at Troston, as well as to hear that they are lined up to be the venue for the Guild Six-Bell Striking Competitions due to be held on Saturday 20th May. Hopefully added motivation for teams through all Districts to enter!

Work at Troston © 2022 Neal Dodge. Work at Troston © 2022 Neal Dodge. Work at Troston © 2022 Neal Dodge. Work at Troston © 2022 Neal Dodge. Work at Troston © 2022 Neal Dodge.
Work at Troston, November 2022
© 2022 Neal Dodge

Bungay.Something else that was added to What's On for 2023 today was that the Second Monday Eight-Bell Practices at Bungay are slated to return from 9th January, another thing we can hope to look forward to in a big year for Suffolk ringing.

God willing it'll be a year that helps Ruthie and me remain flexible enough to touch our toes!

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Tuesday 29th November 2022

The announcement that the 2021 census revealed that for the first time less than half of the UK population described themselves as Christian, naturally got me thinking about ringing's relationship with the Church of England. For me, that relationship is important, vital even. After all, the vast majority of bells we ring on are in CofE buildings and broadly we are able to go about much of the ringing that is perceived as secular or even indulgent such as outings, quarter-peals, peals, etc on these instruments in return for ringing out on Sunday mornings and other occasions that the church asks of us, although I would argue that outings, quarter-peals, peals and the like contribute to the raising of standards for service ringing. Additionally, congregations made up of people already in churches on the Sabbath morn and not put off by where we ring are more likely to be attracted to the exercise.

However, the news today confirms what we already knew, that this particular pool of recruitment is diminishing and increasingly aging in its demographics. If ringing is to grow its numbers, some may say that perhaps we should be focusing more on the science, music and fellowship of the art more than anything. Put handbells and private rings front and centre. Big up the ringing centres like the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre in Norwich. And to an extent I agree.

Bell Tower Perth Old Black Lion. Ringing is doing that to a large degree. My perception is that the public seems most engaged with things like striking competitions and the MRDC generates much positive publicity. Further afield, the Swan Tower in Perth in Australia has been very successful. Along with the planned Ringing Centre in the Old Black Lion in Northampton, it hopefully helps ringing appeal to a wider audience put off by religion or of a different faith.

That is very different to ignoring our links to the church though, which I believe we mustn't lose, even if we could, but there is no doubting that churches and religion are off-putting factors for many, as the census suggests.

Linked to this, when I started writing this blog, it was in part with the hope that non-ringers might come across it and realise that you don't have to hand your life over to ringing to enjoy all it that offers. Even though I don't think it has a large readership amongst those who have never touched a bellrope (albeit there have been non-ringers who have read it), I still think it's important to show how one can still be an active ringer whilst still fitting in non-ringing activities. I think I manage that, as even though we have a young family to raise, both have jobs and a relatively busy social life with non-ringing friends, between us we still manage at least two or three practices a week, Sunday morning ringing, District and Guild events, quarters, peals, ringing outings, weddings, striking competitions locally, regionally and nationally, etc.

Tonight though, was all about football, as the most talked about match of the World Cup thus far (in the UK anyway) England vs Wales took place on a hot evening in Qatar, far from the muddy fields, rolling hills, fog and rain of our countries at the moment. A 3-0 win for the Three Lions not only meant that the men in white progressed to the next round, but in coming out on top of their group also means they avoid playing their next match at 3pm on Saturday when we would've been trying to find a way of keeping up with the fixture whilst in Ufford for the South-East District ADM!

I'm not sure what the census would've made of that.

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Monday 28th November 2022

St Mary-le-Tower. St Mary-le-Tower's practice this evening showed what can be achieved with greater numbers. We were still relatively short and the general standard wasn't at the levels that we've set ourselves, especially after showing what could be achieved earlier this year, but we rang Stedman Cinques and Yorkshire Surprise Maximus, the latter of which was a first for Lucy Williamson and well rung.

It was followed by socialising in the Halberd Inn as usual, whilst earlier in the day Past Master of the Suffolk Guild Jed Flatters was ringing what was probably his 400th peal in the 5056 of Plain Bob Major on handbells in Bury St Edmunds. Congratulations Jed. Probably.

Ufford. Meanwhile, there is still just time to get names to me for tea at the South-East District ADM at Ufford on Saturday. Hopefully we can achieve more with greater numbers there.

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Sunday 27th November 2022

Ruthie was singing with the Illuminati choir at a place called Beaumont-cum-Moze in deepest Essex this evening, which she left for this afternoon. I certainly don't begrudge her that. In fact I'm delighted. She is wonderful at singing and really enjoys it and whilst joining the choir at St Mary-the-Virgin in Woodbridge serves a purpose of duty that she is pleased to undertake, Illuminati is purely pleasure and performance and she enjoys it very much. It did lead to a busy evening for me though!

From the moment I'd dropped my wife off with her lift to south of the Stour, the boys and I returned home in time for Josh & me to dance a couple of times together during Strictly Come Dancing at his adorable insistence, before I cooked tea for three sons whilst simultaneously following a World Cup football fixture and Ipswich Town's strangely timed 5pm FA Cup match. I then dropped Mason off at his mother's with his younger brothers Alfie and Joshua in tow, before then making sure a tortoise was OK, making sure the boys were bathed and then watching more football, whilst keeping Josh - who is less enthusiastic about the beautiful game than his older siblings, but still wants to stay up late with the rest of us taking it all in - occupied and overseeing Alfred doing some spelling at half-time and then watching more football. You might be getting an idea of why we don't get to do as much ringing as we used to or why it sometimes takes a while for me to reply to emails.

I still did do ringing today though, as I went to St Mary-le-Tower for morning service ringing that included Grandsire Cinques before the boys and I joined my fellow ringers in post-ringing refreshments at Costa Coffee, although rather than going onto Grundisburgh we then popped to my mother Sally's to help her move something.

Ufford. Additionally, I continue to take names for the South-East District ADM planned for Ufford next Saturday, but we could still do with more. If you can support proceedings and would like a tea, then please do contact me before the end of Tuesday!

And elsewhere in Suffolk, other ringers were also ringing. At The Norman Tower in Bury St Edmunds, a 1294 of Cambridge Surprise Maximus was rung, whilst at Henley, well done to Richard Baldwin on ringing his first quarter-peal in the 1428 of Plain Bob Triples.

Ultimately, I expect most of those involved did the same as we did at the end of the day and finally took a moment to just sit back and relax!

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Saturday 26th November 2022

"The ART Awards are back", the Central Council are announcing with understandable joy. Please do take a look through the categories and see if anyone, tower or group might be worthy of being put forward. It would be wonderful to see a Suffolk winner and with the talent and endeavour within the Guild I'm sure there's a good chance. I also hope it might inspire others to get into a position to be potential nominees next year.

We weren't doing anything to contribute today, although we were starting to get a trickle of names coming in for the tea at the South-East District ADM planned for Ufford in a week's time. Keep them coming please!

Instead, I was watching Alfie making some great saves for his football team (though he was unluckily beaten by an own goal from one of his teammates), during an otherwise slow day.

Meanwhile, whilst ringers once of within these borders Barrie Hendry, Philip Moyse & Jimmy Yeoman were ringing in peals at South Petherton, Backwell & Stratford upon Avon respectively and sisters Margaret Bulleid & Janet Clarke were quarter-pealing in Towcester & Westminster respectively, Molly Waterson was scoring a quartet of quarters at Bushey Heath, High Wycombe & in St Albans at the Cathedral & St Peter's and Joshua Watkins was marking the day of the University of London Society's seventy-seventh Annual Dinner with QPs at Limehouse & Rotherhithe, there was nothing noted on BellBoard from the county they once lived and rung in, although hopefully the South-West District ADM at St Gregory's in Sudbury went well.

All being well there was plenty going on worthy of nomination for an ART Award though!

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Friday 25th November 2022

Packenham.God willing in precisely a month we shall be celebrating Christmas Day, hopefully imbued with the true meaning of the season but also sat back with a glass of something and relaxing. Before then though, there should be much ringing for festive services and events around Suffolk. There is hoped to be ringing around the towers of Ipswich on Saturday 17th December and a week before the North-West District plan to follow their Practice at Pakenham with a Bring and Share lunch for Christmas.

St Mary-le-Tower. The first specifically seasonal ringing that I am aware of though, is due to take place on Wednesday at St Mary-le-Tower, when ringers are needed to ring from 6.15-7pm for the opening of the Christmas Tree Festival. All are welcome and help appreciated.

Ufford.Talking of forthcoming ringing occasions, Ruthie and I are taking names for teas at the South-East District ADM in Ufford in eight days' time, but by the end of today we still haven't actually had any names. This is being held in a lovely little village off the beaten track but still easy enough to get to, just half an hour's walk or 10-15 minute cycle ride from Melton Railway Station, only ten miles out of Ipswich and The White Lion should be open after the meeting! You have until Tuesday to book your place at tea, please do get in touch!

Wissett.In the here and now though, congratulations to Keith Dennis - who along with Philip Gorrod judged the South-East District Striking Competition at Pettistree in May - on ringing his twenty-fifth quarter-peal in the 1260 of Plain Bob Doubles from the fourth at Wissett, whilst we spent the evening watching England's 0-0 draw at the World Cup with the USA that didn't give us much to celebrate.

Here's hoping we'll be celebrating more in a month from today.

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Thursday 24th November 2022

No eBells for me tonight, as the boys and I got carried away with watching the Brazilians in the World Cup on the TV, but there is plenty of ringing-related stuff to report on.

Town Hall - - 17068CCCBR President Simon Linford's latest blog speaks in depth about the Ringing 2030 project, but also mentions Haverhill's ringing vicar Max Drinkwater's appearance on the front page of the Sunday Mirror - which I hadn't spotted - about his sermon on the subject of his MP Matt Hancock's current stint on I'm A Celebrity and Mr Linford confirms that Ipswich Town Hall has been booked as the HQ for the Central Council's planned AGM over the first weekend of September 2023.

He also shares a superb recruitment video that is keen to highlight the variety of places you can ring, but even they didn't think to mention Antartica where today Linda Garton, occasional St Mary-le-Tower ringer David Sparling and one-time Bures learner John Loveless rang what is believed (with quite some justification!) to be the most southerly peal yet rung, as they rang a 5040 of three Minor methods on handbells!

And handbells were also being rung about 8,500 miles away here in Suffolk, as a quarter-peal of Bellfast Surprise Minor was rung in Bacton.

At least someone was ringing handbells this evening, even if I wasn't!

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Wednesday 23rd November 2022

Ashlar House, Bury St Edmunds, IP32 7AB. 6.30 for 7pm. Saturday 25th March 2023. Note those details, for as Chairman Rowan Wilson announced via an email to members today, that is the venue, time and date planned for the Suffolk Guild Centenary Dinner.

Our dinners are only every five years, which makes them special occasions anyway, but this once-in-a-lifetime event should be extra special and one that I imagine many won't want to miss, ourselves included.

That is reflected by the slightly higher than the usual price of £60 per ticket, but this can be reduced to £55 if purchased by 31st January and is still much less than the £75 we paid for each of our College Youths Dinner tickets recently and will gain you entry to an occasion that God willing is remembered as a significant one in the Guild's history. Having been involved in the organising of the 2008 Dinner at Woolpit (though others deserve more credit than me for my minimal input!) when I was SGR Ringing Master, I fully appreciate how much more time and effort must have gone into this most special of dinners, so please do support it and get your tickets!

This exciting ringing announcement came on a day when we actually ran out of time for any ringing ourselves, as a combination of work, Alfie's football training and a couple of extra tasks added to the usual tight Wednesday evening schedule meant that neither of us made it to Pettistree practice tonight.

Still, they seemed to be coping perfectly fine without us, at least judging by the impressive quarter-peal of the 'Cambridge Twelve' Surprise Minor methods spliced rung beforehand.

And with not getting out to ringing, it gave us a bit extra time to read the latest issue of The Ringing World, which features much Suffolk-related content, with a picture of Peter Harper in his Ding Dong jumper next to the QP rung for his recent birthday at the aforementioned ground-floor six at Pettistree, a report on new residents of the county James & Jenny Croft's ringing trip to the Scilly Isles and an extract from my blog of 11th November.

Appropriately too, Editor Will Bosworth is one of the speakers lined up for the Guild Dinner, along with Lesley Dolphin & Mark Murphy, who have both done much to publicise and support local ringing over the years through their roles as presenters on BBC Radio Suffolk. Indeed, Lesley learnt to ring as part of a project for the station's presenters to try something new and we rang a peal at Felixstowe of Dolphin Bob Major in honour of her retirement in July and I have fond memories of collaborating with Mark to help ringing celebrate St Edmund's Day!

They would be fascinating to listen to on Saturday 25th March 2023 from 7pm at Ashlar House in Bury St Edmunds, IP32 7AB.

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Tuesday 22nd November 2022

There really isn't much to mention from a Suffolk ringing perspective today. With no Ufford practice and the Great British Bake Off now finished for another year, it was a night in watching current holders France start their World Cup campaign on the TV and a look at BellBoard would suggest it wasn't that much busier elsewhere on the bells of the county, although of course there will have been a number of practice nights on, as can be found on this very website. For us the highlight of our day was picking the boys up from tea at their Great Granny's to be presented with a plateful of food each after she'd cooked too much as usual!

Not that far beyond our borders though, ringing innovation was being celebrated at Great St Mary's in Cambridge where the tenth anniversary of the first peal of David Pipe's famous Particles, a cyclic plan of ten methods created to bring up large numbers of runs of bells and plenty of music, something that every time I have ever heard clips of has been a joyous sound, and which was rung at the same tower for the first time on 22nd November 2012.

St Gregory.For those of us not quite at that level (and indeed those who are too), just thirty miles from the scene of tonight's 5016 of ten-spliced Maximus there is due to be a busier day of ringing on Saturday, when the South-West District are planning on holding their ADM at St Gregory's in Sudbury, with ringing lined up on the 14cwt eight from 2.30pm, the service at 4pm and then the Bring-and-Share tea and the meeting following, all being well.

God willing that'll help give me more from a Suffolk ringing perspective to mention at the weekend.

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Monday 21st November 2022

Ruthie and I were both off work today to watch England's first match of this World Cup and very enjoyable it was too as the Three Lions won 6-2 against Iran in a 1pm kick-off that the boys and their classmates also watched at school.

It was an unusually sober experience though. Apart from Euro 2016 when we needed to be ready at any moment to dash to hospital for Ruthie to give birth to Joshua, our nation's fixtures usually necessitate a drink or two, either to enhance the occasion or to settle the nerves! This time though, with the children needing to be collected from their seat of learning afterwards, cups of tea were enough on a day that also doubled up as one of productivity, with a tyre change on the car before Harry Kane et al got going and the weekly shop at Tesco slightly later than intended after a staggering total of twenty-four minutes of injury time was added to proceedings in the Khalifa International Stadium.

St Mary-le-Tower. Besides, tempting as it was to watch Wales start their campaign, I was determined not to miss another St Mary-le-Tower practice due to the footy having chosen Ipswich's footballers over Ipswich's bells only a fortnight ago.

I'm glad I did too, as we were pretty short due to illness and the frankly dreadful weather. We did ring some really nice Stedman Caters and on twelve rang Erin Cinques and Kent Treble Bob Maximus, as well as call-changes for the visit of our German learner Jakob during a fleeting return. The low numbers made it a bit of a struggle on this occasion though, so hopefully we'll get a few more regulars and welcome visitors back as we approach this busy time of year.

For all that, it was still a lovely evening of fellowship topped off by a drink in the Halberd Inn following ringing, and I expect there was fine fellowship enjoyed this afternoon in Moats Tye too, by the band who rang a quarter-peal of Kent Treble Bob Royal on handbells.

What a nice way to spend a Monday off.

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Sunday 20th November 2022

Grundisburgh. Clopton. Otley. Helmingham. Framsden. Winston. Debenham. Eye. Brome.

During much of this feast of St Edmund, Suffolk's patron saint, I was actually in Norfolk, but of course on my way I passed through much of his county and was reminded of the many rings of bells we are fortunate to have within our borders, varied in style, location and indeed quality, but all part of ringing's rich tapestry. The twelve at Grundisburgh which was once the lightest in the world, the sixes of Clopton and Otley, the historic eight of Helmingham, the sadly unringable octave of Framsden, the isolated five of Winston, the heavy eights at the centre at the busy communities of Debenham and Eye and finally the rarely rung five of Brome before crossing our northern border.

My reason for crossing the River Waveney was a peal attempt of Stedman Cinques at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich which I had very kindly been invited in by Hampshire ringer Roy LeMarechal, as part of a two-parter in the area that saw most of the band successfully ring a 5040 of Cambridge Surprise Maximus at Great Yarmouth yesterday, where St Mary-le-Tower Ringing Master David Potts rang the seventh.

Tunnel of light alongside St Peter Mancroft in Norwich.Today I stepped in for David, with neither of us able to make both attempts and arrived in time, despite the complete gridlock coming into the city which others in the band got caught up in and eventually necessitated an ad hoc and largely blind diversion from myself. Twenty minutes later and I found myself on the sixth in this stunning ringing chamber between Neil Thomas and organiser Roy ringing in a good but brisk effort, although its fast pace made it harder to hear and for the tenor ringer to keep up comfortably. Speed was adjusted and it became easier to hear, but throughout the ringing remained at a high standard.

However, just after an hour and a half in, the conductor set it up, realising they had miscalled the composition. It was a pity, but entirely forgivable. I have complete admiration for anyone capable of calling peals of Stedman and it has to be said that they were called upon to conduct relatively last-minute with the original conductor having to drop out through illness.

Besides, if you are going to lose a peal that would probably have taken about 3hrs 30mins, this was probably roughly the perfect time. Long enough to have made it worthwhile travelling up, but not so close to the end to feel like a last-minute defeat. And it was lovely to catch up with ringing friends from around the country. Head Judge from this year's National 12-bell Striking Contest Julia Cater had already had a productive weekend down from Cumbria having also rung in a peal at Reepham on Saturday before trebling at the 30cwt twelve on the coast later that day. I always enjoy catching up with Andrew 'Oggy' Ogden who I rang with often in my days in the West Midlands and it was lovely also to catch up with locals Michael Clements and Neil & Nikki Thomas, the latter pair who we usually see on a video screen these days, as well as Peter & Christine Hill, a former Bramford ringer. And it was great to catch-up with former Halesworth ringer Maggie Ross either side of our efforts on the 37cwt twelve as she grabbed a ring beforehand, and her other half and another friend of my Birmingham ringing days Tim Palmer.

The conveniently timed loss also gave me the time to chat more over a hot chocolate in Starbucks and even get back home in time to watch most of the first match of the men's football World Cup in Qatar, albeit not quite in time to witness the first two goals of the tournament as Ecuador beat the hosts 2-0. I have to admit to not being quite as excited for this one as I have been for all the previous ones, what with its issues with human rights and the timing of a competition that would usually be held during the warmth of a British summer with BBQs and drinks into long sunny evenings, This is the first one that Alfie and Joshua have been old enough to take an interest in though, with the former particularly excited having made himself a 'World Cup Chair' and pored over our wall-chart (the purchase of which with a newspaper that was also packed on tips for the perfect Christmas further reiterating the strange feeling around this World Cup) and God willing I will be combining my ringing with much watching of football over the coming weeks!

Pettistree Ringers AGM. As if to underline the kind of routine we may have until the final on 18th December, almost as soon as we'd finished watching the footy, we were joining our fellow Pettistree ringers via video for the tower's annual meeting. It is far preferable to gather in person in my opinion, but it made sense to meet online for something like this where the meeting is the only aspect, with people who see each other every week anyway, especially with the weather at this time of year and of course it allowed both Ruthie and me to join together with some nibbles and wine for an occasion that tends to be the first time we look back on the year. It has been a year of recovery like so many other bands and towers and in most respects it has been a successful one in those circumstances. Despite the difficulties of the 2021/22 winter, there have still been forty-eight quarter-peals rung on the ground-floor six since we met twelve months ago for the tower's annual meeting and for a rural six-bell tower, attendances have held up well and the repertoire of a variety of Surprise Minor methods and spliced maintained, whilst we won the South-East District Six-Bell Cecil Pipe Memorial Bell Method Competition in May on home turf.

Ring for the KIng. or all that though, like many places there is a need for recruitment and to that end we hope to take advantage of the Ring for the King campaign, for which the CCCBR have shared materials and advice for.

Somewhere else where I imagine recruitment will also be on the mind is Fornham St Martin where the intention is to augment the 6cwt six to an eight and I was delighted to hear that their book sale yesterday raised an impressive £1147 towards the project. There have been a lot of augmentations in recent years and understandably the response from some has been to quite rightly point out that we don't have enough ringers to ring all the bells we already have. These are usually locally driven community projects though, which are great PR for the art and accompanied by the recruitment of new ringers. I'm sure that will be the case here too and I'm pleased to see a big step towards achieving that goal taken.

St Margaret. Reiterating what can achieved by such projects done in the right way, a ringer who learnt when Pettistree were rehung in 1986 reached a significant ringing landmark this afternoon, as former Guild Secretary Mary Garner rang her five hundredth peal in the 5275 of Double Norwich Court Bob Major at St Margaret's in Ipswich for the Cumberlands Peal Weekend. Congratulations Mary!

Nice as well to see it rung for St Edmund's Day.

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Saturday 19th November 2022

There were winners throughout the county today.

Alfie's footy team won their match with another clean sheet for our son whilst Ruthie and Josh remained at home in the warm with our nieces.

Ipswich Town won on the TV again, although the noon kick-off meant that Alfred and I were still coming back from his match when it was on and so we didn't actually see it.

More pertinently to this ringing blog though, there were winning Suffolk ringers, at least in regards to scoring peals.

Redgrave.Perhaps most notably at Redgrave, where the first peal on the 7cwt six since their restoration and rehanging was rung with a 5040 of seven Plain Minor methods in 2hrs 42mins for the Guild.

However, local members of the Cumberland Youths were also taking part in the Society's Peal Weekend with a success within our borders at The Norman Tower with a 5275 - marking the 275th anniversary of the SRCY - Yorkshire Surprise Royal. Great to see ringers here contributing to what seems thus far to have been a successful event nationwide.

Meanwhile, Stephen Pettman is gauging interest into another of his ringing trips to Italy in the autumn of next year. These are usually popular biannual trips, but of course like much else hasn't happened in a while and travelling now feels a very different experience for many. Stephen's trips are a busy though fascinating few days and the hospitality magnificent, so please do let him know if you're interested in going.

Tostock. Appropriately on that note, the Central European Association are meeting in Dordrecht, with a 5000 of Cambridge Surprise Royal rung on the ten there. And back here, today's brace of successes were accompanied by a quarter-peal of Double Court Bob Minor at Tostock on Friday which was a first in the method for Clare Gebel. Well done Clare!

Great to see there were winners in the county yesterday too.

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Friday 18th November 2022

Lots going on today that ringing was getting involved in.

Tower of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral 2019 Children in Need isn't a ringing event of course, but the art does usually mark it, particularly at Liverpool Cathedral, the heaviest ring of bells in the world hung for change-ringing. This year they rang the heaviest peal of Caters ever rung with a 5031 of Stedman on the 82cwt back ten in 4hrs 16mins.

Also going on was the start of the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths' Peal Weekend. I believe there are attempts due to take place in Suffolk over the weekend as there usually are, but for now there were plenty of others taking place throughout the country, including a 5040 of 120 Treble Dodging Minor methods on handbells in the ringing chamber of Sacred Trinity in Salford in Greater Manchester with former Exning learner Jimmy Yeoman ringing 1-2.

No such activity for us, although we joined Simon Rudd's weekly virtual pub. Albeit without Simon and one or two other regulars it was ourselves, the Sparlings and Mark Ogden in conversation on this occasion.

Other ringers from within our borders were busy beyond those borders though. Alan Mayle was ringing a peal of Ely Surprise Major for the Ely Diocesan Association, although for the purposes of symmetry not on the 17cwt eight of St Mary's in Ely, but rather Meldreth. And having not rung a peal for nearly three years, Mike Whitby rang TWO today, both in Norfolk for the Norwich Diocesan Association, first at Mulbarton for David Brown's seventieth birthday and then at Intwood for Richard Carter's birthday.

There was lots going on today that ringing was getting involved in.

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Thursday 17th November 2022

It was a special morning, as more than two years after starting primary school, Josh and his peers were able to perform a class assembly to us, other parents and the rest of the school for the first time ever. The theme was Africa and particularly Kenya, complete with singing, artwork and speaking parts, including from our youngest son. A far cry from his first 'performance' at nursery when he refused to be a cow at the nativity and promptly sat out sulking! He did extremely well today and even more importantly seemed to be enjoying it throughout and appeared chuffed to perform for us! Well done Joshua!

I was very grateful to John Catt Educational for allowing me to take the time out of my working day to watch and make up the time, but even with that there was the opportunity to read The Ringing World as the 4th November issue arrived with us on behalf of the Pettistree band, once I had asked for it to be sent out again after the original copy hadn't arrived in the post. There's lots of things being held up in the post and who knows, it may yet appear, but I'm glad I requested it as although a lot of the content was even more out of date than usual by its nature, there was still lots of interesting stuff that isn't readily available online. Such as the first of a four-part series on 250 years of ringing at St Malachy's in Hillsborough in Northern Ireland and a piece on Hurn's of Norwich's 'celebrated' ropes.

And with Ruthie practicing with her choirs and the boys in bed, I also took the chance to have my usual Thursday evening solo session on eBells. Whilst I can't claim to have mastered Yorkshire Surprise Major in hand, last week's effort was successful enough to satisfy me for now and so this week I rewarded myself by having a go on ten, breaking myself in 'gently' by ringing 9-10 to a couple of courses of Little Bob Royal that went pretty well, before I finally decided to just put my feet up and watch TV in a very ordinary evening compared to a special morning.

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Wednesday 16th November 2022

St Mary-le-Tower. Well done to George Heath-Collins who rang his first ever quarter-peal in the 1260 of Plain Bob Triples on the front eight at St Mary-le-Tower this evening. Since being introduced to the art through his girlfriend Lucy Williamson, George has diligently and enthusiastically taken to the exercise and has been entertaining company at ringing on Suffolk's heaviest ring of bells. This landmark is well deserved and it is appropriate that Lucy, her father Jonathan and former Guild Ringing Master Amanda Richmond were also ringing, having done the most to help him this far.

Pettistree. Well done also to Lucy's mother Sue who was ringing her first of PB Triples on a night that also saw a QP rung at Pettistree, which whilst not a first for anyone was apparently another job well done by Wickham Market ringer John Horsnell. As with George, it has been very satisfying to see John's progress over recent months.

The Ridgman Trophy at our house. Not unusually these days, I couldn't ring in the quarter as I was taking Alfie to his team's football training, but I did make some of the practice that followed, complete with the Ridgman Trophy under my arm as it finished its three-day residency in Melton and it begins its stay at the ground-floor six in recognition of four of the winning SGR band from June being regular ringers here.

The ringing itself was again a useful mix from Plain Hunt on Five to Carlisle Surprise Minor, whilst it was lovely to see Suzanne Stevens ringing here again and for her to join myself and the Garners in The Greyhound afterwards.

Fornham St Martin.Meanwhile, please note that the usual weekly Friday practice at Felixstowe isn't happening this week due to a lack of numbers, but there is an addition to What's On this Saturday with a Book Sale with Coffee & Cakes between 10am-3pm at Fornham St Martin church planned to raise funds for the project to augment the 6cwt six there to an eight. If you can go along and support this cause, then please do. God willing it'll be the future scene of more achievements like George's.

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Tuesday 15th November 2022

Ufford. On the day that the UN announced that the planet's human population has passed eight billion, six of them were gathered at Ufford for the weekly practice. Circumstances meant that didn't include Ringing Master Kate Eagle and so I was running proceedings this evening, in partnership with Peter Harper. With 7,999,999,994 people not there, learners Daniel & Margaret had to ring without any standers-behind and we were more restricted than usual to what we could do, but we still fashioned what I hope was a useful session for them, which for Daniel saw him trebling to Plain Bob Doubles and ringing the third to Plain Hunt on Six, whilst Margaret rang inside to Grandsire Doubles and trebled to St Martin's & St Simon's Bob Doubles spliced. It is worth noting though that there won't be practices on the next couple of Tuesdays on the 13cwt eight at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Elveden. Earlier in the day meanwhile, a peal of Adelaide Surprise Major was rung for the Suffolk Guild on the 17cwt octave at Elveden in the far north-west corner of the county, by one billionth of the world's population.

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Monday 14th November 2022

St Mary-le-Tower. St Mary-le-Tower have long battled against unfair perceptions that the ringers are somehow elitest and even unwelcoming, perhaps fermented over decades by the fact that ringing here is very different to most other towers in Suffolk. As one of only three twelves in the county and the heaviest ring of bells within our borders, touches are longer, attendances generally bigger and from a much larger area as ringers travel from as far away as neighbouring counties.

However, the perception some have couldn't be more untrue. All are welcome and whilst those who are looking to ring on ten and twelve will get more opportunities, we have a number of learners starting out on their ringing journey here.

This evening's session encapsulated ringing in this famous ringing chamber currently perfectly.

Primarily due to the focus on Stedman Cinques for the National 12-bell Striking Contest, we haven't done all that much Cambridge Surprise Maximus and so as a band we are a little rusty on it, but despite some unsettled sections in the couple of half-courses we rang tonight, there was some pretty decent ringing as well. More practice will only help sharpen it up.

As soon as I walked in, I was asked to stand behind Sue Williamson as she rang the third to some Grandsire Cinques, although truth be told, she didn't really need me there as her twelve-bell ringing continues to advance.

Sonia Docherty rang call-changes on twelve with accuracy and confidence, showing real progress.

And we welcomed a lady called Fiona from Woodbridge who is interested in learning to ring.

Afterwards, a number of us retired to the Halberd Inn for post-ringing refreshment, where the social element that I hope attracts even more ringers in was carried out in typically jovial fashion.

David Stanford was one of those enjoying the fellowship on a successful day of ringing for him, as along with Guild Chairman Rowan Wilson, former Ringing Master Jed Flatters and Handbells & Mini-Ring Trustee & former Chairman Brian Whiting, he was amongst a cohort ringing their first quarter-peal of Treble Bob Royal in hand in the 1248 of Kent in Moats Tye. Well done to them David, Rowan, Jed and conductor Brian.

They are welcome at St Mary-le-Tower of course, as you all are!

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Sunday 13th November 2022

Two months ago, St Mary-le-Tower's bells were fully muffled for the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, as were many other bells of course. I expressed at the time how I felt the general response from society was a little OTT in places, but it was quite right that her death and the end of her extraordinary seventy-year reign was seen as an extraordinary event and as something that is perceived by most as the sound of the Church of England of which she was Head, it was only appropriate that the response of ringing was extraordinary.

Remembrance Sunday 2022 at Christchurch Park in Ipswich.
Remembrance Sunday 2022 at Christchurch Park in Ipswich

Typically, something that we do every year might seem unremarkable in comparison. Yet, there is nothing unremarkable about the way the nation remembers people who aren't in the public eye or afforded the status of celebrity. This morning, Ruthie, the boys and myself stood in Ipswich's Christchurch Park with an estimated 6,000 others at 11am at the same time as many more gathered at the Cenotaph in London and millions of others around the UK from many hundreds on the Market Hill in Woodbridge, to smaller gatherings such as that at Grundisburgh where the 9cwt tenor will have been tolled for the service on the green and was somewhere else we might have gone this morning, all for those largely unknown to us from the UK and its empire who have died for our freedoms, as well as those who have suffered mentally and in other ways and those worldwide who are victims of war, especially at the moment those in Ukraine. As usual, this didn't strike me as a celebration of war, but rather a lament that people have and still do die and suffer for it.

Beforehand, I was pleased also that I could contribute towards ringing's usual moving contribution to the occasion, as the famous 34cwt twelve of St Mary-le-Tower was rung half-muffled. Yorkshire Surprise Maximus didn't come round, but mainly because the bar was set slightly higher today and I took the decision as conductor not to allow a very decent bit of ringing collapse after a couple of stray bells led the piece to start disintegrating despite corrections. However, Erin Cinques went very well and it was lovely to have Ruthie with us, as the choir at St Mary-the-Virgin in Woodbridge wasn't needed at the aforementioned open air service.

The large crowd in the ringing chamber then transferred to Costa Coffee for refreshment before we wandered over to join the even larger crowds in the park at the end of a satisfying and moving morning.

The Ridgman Trophy at our house. We also came away with the Ridgman Trophy. That's right, the trophy competed for by ringing organisations from across the east of England and all sorts of superstars of the art, has been entrusted with us in our madhouse, with the silverware now sat on a side in our home. After it had been at St Mary-le-Tower since the Guild won this ten-bell striking competition for the second year running at Kings Lynn in June, the plan is now to get it to Pettistree to recognise the contribution of Mike Cowling, Mark Ogden and Ruthie from the ground-floor six to the victorious band on that wet summer's day in Norfolk.

Next it is intended to go to The Norman Tower where fellow victors Cath & Julian Colman ring and where a 1295 of Grandsire Caters was rung, one of a number of performances from the county rung for Remembrance Sunday that were noted on BellBoard, including another quarter-peal at Aldeburgh and ringing at Clare, Poslingford, Stoke by Clare and Woodbridge. There will have been much, much more within our borders, of course.

Well done and thank you to Suffolk for remembering those we owe so much to, so appropriately.

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Saturday 12th November 2022

Remembering the fallen at Portman Road.A letter in The Times from London learner Madeleine Neave suggesting that ringing is "sexy" caused quite a stir amongst ringing's social media channels today, but we were doing nothing to add to the art's reputation in that or any other respect as Ruthie had to go to a rare weekend meeting at work and then myself, Mason and Alfie spent a frustrating but precious afternoon watching Ipswich Town's 1-1 draw with Cheltenham Town. Although very moving to be part of 25,000 people paying tribute to the armed forces on this Remembrance weekend, as ringing around the country did likewise.

Sudbury, St Gregory. Ufford. There was nothing to report from Suffolk ringing on BellBoard, although of course the North-East District and the North-West Districts held their ADMs at Fressingfield and Buxhall respectively, ahead of the South-West District planning on holding their ADM in a fortnight and the South-East District intending on holding their one a week later at Ufford on Saturday 3rd December. Please do support them if you are able.

Although I can't guarantee that they will be sexy, I hope they will be very worthwhile attending.

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Friday 11th November 2022

We wish they weren't needed, but the dreadful events in Ukraine over the last few months highlight how the whims of one person in power mean that they are. Those who instead of taking the safety of a 9-5 job choose to put themselves in harm's way so we don't have to, endangering their physical and mental health and even potentially their life.

Once a year, at 11am on 11th November, society is encouraged to take a single minute out of the 525,600 minutes available to us across twelve months, to think about the sacrifices they make. It really isn't much. Personally, it is the very least I feel I could do seeing as I'm too cowardly to put myself in danger myself. Ultimately though, one of the reasons for those sacrifices is that if you choose to ignore the minute's silence at 11am on 11/11, you are free to do so.

I have no idea how many people actually do take a minute to reflect when it falls in the working week, as it did today. It is even harder to tell with working from home and emptier offices. As I took a break from work today and stood silently looking out of the window, nothing seemed to change. There was no more or no less noise or activity from the outside world. In that moment, it struck me how much bells ringing out half-muffled before or after would've helped remind people who otherwise seemed to have forgotten.

If any needed to be, the villagers of Pettistree in their community this morning will surely have been reminded by the sound of the half-muffled quarter-peal of Plain Bob Doubles on the ground-floor six that rang out leading up to the Act of Remembrance at the village's War Memorial, whilst in Horringer hopefully the same was true of the peal of Grandsire Triples on the 8cwt eight there.

No ringing for us mind, although as per usual we met with Simon Rudd and friends in his virtual pub and earlier read this week's copy of The Ringing World, which featured a report on the celebrations that marked the two hundredth anniversary of the first peal of Cambridge Surprise Royal, which included peals within our borders at Stradbroke and Grundisburgh.

Meanwhile, Mike Cowling was again busy, following up his morning's ringing at Pettistree by trebling to the 5120 of Lessness Surprise Major seventy miles away at Meldreth in Cambridgeshire alongside former Ufford ringer Stephen Wood.

Thank God for those prepared to protect our freedom to do such things.

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Thursday 10th November 2022


Well in a relative sense I suppose. I wouldn't have been happy ringing a plain course of Yorkshire Surprise Major on a single towerbell at the standard that I rang it on two eBells this evening, but in the context of where my handbell ringing was just last year and my recent weeks of (admittedly decreasing) struggles ringing 7-8 to this familiar method, I was absolutely delighted to ring it properly for the first time on this pair, with just the odd clash and hesitation and an understanding throughout of where I was in the method. Euphoric almost.

Alfie too was feeling pretty euphoric after the first class assembly at school that we've been allowed to attend for three years. Dressed in green with his classmates to symbolise rainforests which was the subject of their performance, he annunciated his lines clearly and carried his dance moves out perfectly with great joy. Having gone into it with a mixture of excitement and nerves, he was chuffed to bits with how well it went!

Blythburgh.As I hope the band who rang the quarter-peal at Blythburgh for Veronica Downing's birthday today were too.

Happy Birthday Ronnie and well done to the band on their unequivocal success!

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Wednesday 9th November 2022

Dordrecht has not only made the Netherlands one of the busiest peal-ringing areas in the world, but is also home to four Dutch ringers, the de Koks. For this evening though, there was another one, as Mike Whitby gave Dutch visitor and guest of the Garners, Beatrix, a go at ringing during Pettistree practice, which I eventually made after taking Alfie to football training.

Ringers at Pettistree with Beatrix.
Ringers at Pettistree with Beatrix
© 2022 Mike Whitby

She joined us in The Greyhound afterwards too at the end of a session that also included Plain & Little Bob, Carlisle Surprise, several Minor methods spliced, a group photo and began with a 1296 of Bourne Surprise Minor.

That wasn't the only quarter-peal rung within our borders today, with a 1250 of Lessness Surprise Major scored at Horringer, whilst earlier five of that band also rang in the peal of Lindum Surprise Major twenty miles across the Suffolk countryside at Gislingham and is presumably peal number seventy-two for the Guild this year (although it doesn't say so) as we begin exceeding expectations for 2022's peal totals.

Even further afield, two former youngsters of the county were achieving landmarks in the 5024 of Cooktown Orchid Delight Major (a method devised by Ipswich ringer James Smith) at St Philip and St Jacob in Bristol, as both Philip Moyse and George Salter circled the tower to peals, with the latter calling it to a not-too-simple Alan Reading composition and the former ringing his two hundredth peal, 29% of which have been rung for the SGR by this one-time Reydon ringer. Well done Philip and George!

Grote Kerk, Dordrecht. Nothing in Dordrecht though, on a quiet day of ringing in the Netherlands, even if it wasn't for the Dutch!

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Tuesday 8th November 2022

As someone who lived to the impressive age of ninety-eight and whose most famous catchphrase was "Ding Dong", yesterday's death of veteran actor Leslie Phillips announced today was surely always going to garner a fond reaction amongst some ringers somewhere and that was certainly the case at Dunstable in Bedfordshire and Birchington in Kent. Indeed, the latter even went as far as to announce their intention to name the variation they rang 360 changes of as Ding Dong Doubles in tribute.

Nothing from Suffolk, either for the star of the Carry On films or otherwise, but I was doing some ringing as I was picked up for Ufford's weekly practice by the tower's Ringing Master Kate Eagle, along with Pete Faircloth. It was again a useful session, especially for learners Daniel and Margaret, but the highlight was the arrival of a potential new learner, a lady called Kay who lives in the village and has previously rung when resident in other parts of the country. She had a go tonight to reactive her handling skills and contact details were exchanged between Kate and Kay.

God willing one day she may want to be elected to the Suffolk Guild and be added to twelve new members elected on Saturday's South-District Outing to Norfolk, which was fantastic news.

Meanwhile, with the election of James Marchbank as Master of the College Youths this evening, it was wonderful to see Past Master Susan 'Swaz' Apter elected as Junior Steward, thus starting the process to hopefully being Master again in a couple of years. It is a rare move (indeed I'm pretty sure unheard of in living memory for an organisation which tends to just elect their Masters for a year), but completely justified as this popular ringer's first time in the role was decimated by the pandemic and then when given a second year dogged by her own ill-health, which she has bravely and determinedly overcome.

And there was more positivity from one of our county's former learners, as Jimmy Yeoman - who learnt to ring on the 14cwt six of Exning - called for the first time the difficult but famous composition known as Horton's Four, which is a 5024 of Belfast, Bristol, Glasgow & London Surprise Major spliced composed by Roderick Horton. Incredible stuff when one considers it is still only five years since his first quarter-peal and this is only his thirteenth peal as conductor.

Well done Jimmy - Carry On Conducting!

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Monday 7th November 2022

I love ringing more than football, but my family more than ringing. As a result, I choose the opportunity to watch Ipswich Town's FA Cup match at Bracknell Town on the TV with Ruthie and the boys ahead of ringing at St Mary-le-Tower's weekly practice this evening.

It isn't something I intend to make a habit of. The Tractor Boys are rarely on television, even less so on a Monday night, which still feels a daft time to have a footy fixture to this traditionalist. As things stand, the World Cup strangely planned for later this month doesn't throw up any conflicts with England's games in Qatar, although I may have to politely decline Ufford's practice on Tuesday 29th and depending on where they finish in their group, we may need to find some way for at least the boys to watch the Three Lions whilst we help with the tea for the South-East ADM slated for the same tower on the afternoon of Saturday 3rd December, whilst the semi-finals are on a Tuesday and Wednesday night so again offer potential clashes with our usual ringing, although many fans are unconvinced that we'll get that far!

In the past the Superblues have often let me down when I've plumped for footy over bells, but at least they made it worth my while this time with a 3-0 win, although that's as it should've been against a team from four divisions below us and playing at a tiny ground called Bottom Meadow. I expect the headline writers were licking their lips at the prospect of a shock result!

Hopefully I wasn't missed at St Mary-le-Tower, but there also wasn't anything else on BellBoard from Suffolk either. Perhaps everyone was in watching the Ipswich Town match.

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Sunday 6th November 2022

Many a time on this blog I've commented on how I love visiting London, but love returning to Suffolk even more and this weekend is no different. Even putting aside how wonderful it was to go to the College Youths Dinner and see so many friends, yesterday was absolutely marvelous, with the hustle and bustle of the lit capital on a Saturday evening. As much as we enjoy settling down to watch The Wheel, Strictly Come Dancing and Blankety Blank with the boys in the comfort of our own home, last night made for an exciting change.

Platform 9¾. Waking up eventually today, slightly hungover, with tired limbs and my wife's feet very sore from all the walking in shoes more for show than go, the 'Big Smoke' seemed quite bleak on this chilly, damp November morning-after-the-night before. Even a brief glimpse of the famous 9 and 3/4 at King's Cross wasn't enough to enthuse Harry Potter obsessive Ruthie. The underground seemed quite depressed, with the West Ham United fans that all got off at Stratford looking decidedly underwhelmed to be awake even ahead of their team's match against Crystal Palace. I imagine that sense that they should've stayed in bed was further enforced by the ending of that particular fixture!

Stratford St Mary.There was no option of that for us, as we had to be out of the Travelodge by midday, although we passed on joining the ringing and had a rare lay-in on a leisurely start to this Sunday. That said, we wished we'd set off a bit earlier as once back at the car in Newbury Park, we needed to pump our tyres up before we set off and then had to negotiate a busy and severely flooded A12 before escaping the confines of the depressing, crowded suburbs of Greater London. As soon as we got beyond the M25 though, the roads felt freer. The skies - grey as they were - seemed to grow bigger the further we went until the beautiful Dedham Vale was passed and then the church at Stratford St Mary where a 16cwt six are hung welcomed us back to the homeland.

Not long after, we picked the boys up from Granny Kate who had very kindly had them for the weekend, taking them to Peter Harper's eightieth birthday party yesterday (Happy Birthday today Peter!) and Pettistree this morning for service ringing in very different surroundings to what we were in! Thank you Kate.

Once home, we relived last night's proceedings through social media, including the traditional release on YouTube by Dickon Love of last night's handbell ringing, which was of Orion Surprise Maximus which had tenuous connections to our county with George & Diana Pipe's great-nephew Henry conducting. It is a must-watch, providing you can put up with unedifying sight throughout of me to the right of the band!

Meanwhile, Mr Haper's isn't the only ringing birthday today though. It is also my brother Chris' anniversary of his birth. Happy Birthday Chris! Hopefully this experienced talented Norman Tower ringer had a good day, but we didn't get the chance to communicate with him, bar a text message, as when we weren't travelling back home or reacquainting ourselves with our children, we were falling asleep on the sofa!

It was a long, subdued day of travelling, but as much as we've enjoyed our visit to London, we're glad to be back.

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Saturday 5th November 2022

Some Saturdays are extremely quiet. You want to get out of the house and end up almost getting excited by visiting the shops or taking something out to the bin.

Then on some Saturdays there is an abundance of choice, so much so that it isn't possible to do everything you want. Today was one such Saturday.

We could've been at Bredfield Village Hall for a party to celebrate the eightieth anniversary tomorrow of the birth of Hollesley Ringing Master Peter Harper, which we had very kindly been invited to.

Or we could've gone on the South-East District Outing north of the River Waveney, which in the normal order of things we wouldn't have hesitated on joining. I really enjoy ringing outings, which I consider a valuable experience for learners and a lovely opportunity to explore places one probably wouldn't ordinarily go to if bells didn't take one there.

Both occasions seemed to be great fun and went well from what we've seen and heard from others, but we couldn't make either due to an event that we had booked several months ago and which was something that our attendance at was long overdue. We last went to the annual Anniversary Dinner of the Ancient Society of College Youths of which I have been a member of since 2000 in 2011, eleven years ago to the day. At £75 a ticket and with the high cost of accommodation in London where this magnificent occasion is held, we aren't in a position to go anything like every year, but we had intended to go in 2020 before you-know-what meant it had to go online like everything else and whilst it was held again in person a year ago, we weren't prepared to fork out so much money for an event that we weren't convinced wasn't going to be restricted or even cancelled, although in the end it did go ahead and was hugely successful.

This year though, there was no holding us back, although a spot of ill-health for one of the boys gave us some anxiety for a bit. With everyone in our household well this morning though, Ruthie and I watched Alfie play for his football team, handed him and Joshua over to their Granny Kate who had extremely kindly and willingly agreed to look after the boys for the weekend and set off for the capital.

Even before the train strikes of today were announced and then subsequently cancelled only yesterday, we had planned to drive down to Newbury Park, get the underground - which had always been unaffected by the strikes - to King's Cross and then wander to the Travelodge at Farringdon, our base for the next twenty-one hours. And perhaps surprisingly, it all went to plan!

Ruthie at The Enterprise.We arrived in plenty of time to get ready at a relatively leisurely pace and even join Essex ringers Brian Meads and Past ASCY Master Steve Waters, as well as another Past Master Brian Diserens who currently lives in Germany, in The Enterprise on Red Lion Street, where space had been set aside for ringers after the morning's ringing - of which there had been much, as usual - and ahead of the evening's proceedings.

Following a pint there and we completed our walk to the venue where the dinner itself was being held - De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms. This is as grand a venue as the name suggests, with a magnificent entrance hall of marble and main hall ornately decorated with huge chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Before we even got to the bar we met many familiar faces. An injured Becky Sugden for example. An understandably upbeat George Salter with his fiancée Rachel. David & Caroline House hedging their bets in the queue for drinks.

Ruthie & I glammed up! Crowds at the College Youths Dinner 2022. Crowds at the College Youths Dinner 2022.

There was a significant Suffolk presence too. Colin Salter and Alan Mayle were there, as were new residents of the county James & Jenny Croft, the former of whom received a certificate for fifty years membership. And we shared a table with Claire & James Smith, Abby Antrobus & David Stanford and Diana Pipe, fresh from Brian Whiting's successful annual Quarter-Peal Week in Norfolk, with fifteen QPs rung, including six on handbells at their base in Sheringham. Two of those were firsts for Joan Garrett, on 1-2 in the 1344 of Plain Bob Major last Saturday and of Little Bob in 1288 on Thursday. Well done Joan!

So I knew who I was! View from the bar at the Grand Connaught Rooms.

Meanwhile, we were also on a table with Laith Reynolds from Australia, who is a good friend of Ipswich ringing and regular visitor (at least regular for someone who lives on the other side of the world for most of the year!) and Essex ringer Hilary Donoghue. Collectively we enjoyed a lovely meal, the Master Ryan Noble took wine with various demographics (those who attended the 2013 Suffolk Guild Dinner will recall then Chairman Philip Gorrod doing the same) and Reydon ringer Don Price was amongst those members remembered.

Master Ryan Noble making his speech. Secretary Simon Meyer speaking. The handbell ringers.

The speeches were just the right length and in places moving (particularly Master Ryan's recollections of the support the church and ringing gave him when his parents died when he was young) and in others extremely amusing (such as Guildford ringer Neil Buswell's insinuation that Bristol ringer Colin Newman's beer consumption at the National 12-bell Striking Contest Final had helped pay for the portaloos!), and the handbell ringing typically superb, before the post-dinner mingling began. Great to see more East Anglian ringers from south of us such as David Rothera who is ringing again after his ill-health, although not peal-ringing or anything of that fashion and the north of us with Simon Smith whose photos of Norfolk's churches are lovely to look at.

Elsewhere in the crowd of nearly three hundred, we chatted merrily with fellow Rambling Ringers past and present such as Matthew Dawson, brother and sister Harm Jan & Thirza de Kok, Liz & Stuart Hutchieson and Andrew Mills & Emily Crowder, whilst it was great to catch up with chums from my days ringing in Birmingham, like Michael Wilby, his wife Victoria, father Andrew and sister Hannah, as well Stephanie Warboys and John Thurman, who as usual was good value!

Many of them also ended up in The White Hart pub on Drury Lane, where we had a good catch-up with Hampshire ringer Roy LeMarechal, sort of met talented young Richard Pullin and surprised ourselves by stumbling out at 2am!

It was a late finish to a long, but wonderful day. God willing we will go again, although who knows when, especially as we probably ought to go to the Cumberland Youths' Dinner for Ruthie first, but we're glad we found the time to go on this busy Saturday!

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Friday 4th November 2022

There is some brilliant ringing PR on YouTube featuring a familiar face to many Suffolk ringers, which I watched tonight. It is a Channel 5 news report about the ringers of St Andrew's and St George's West in Edinburgh ringing and recruiting as part of the CCCBR's 'Ring for the King' campaign based around the coronation of Charles III planned for Saturday 6th May 2023, and the first person interviewed is the Tower Captain, Annie Brechin. Annie is an extremely good ringer who learnt the art within our borders, initially at Burgh and after several years living in various countries without bells hung for change-ringing, it is good to see her seemingly so settled in with what looks like a vibrant, youthful ringing scene in Scotland.

Other ringers also appeared to us in screen form this evening, as we joined Simon Rudd's weekly virtual pub for another hour or so of conviviality involving all sorts of subjects ringing and non-ringing related.

Meanwhile, my social media feeds were busy with ringing friends travelling down to London in anticipation of the College Youths' 385th Anniversary Dinner tomorrow, which we hope to be attending too, with some already sightseeing in the capital, others travelling down from up north on the train in First Class and still others ringing for the occasion, with a quarter-peal of Cambridge Surprise Maximus at St Mary-le-Bow accompanied by peals at St Olave Hart Street, Kilburn and further afield in Oxford at St Thomas-the-Martyr.

Wisett.Closer to home and unconnected to the ASCYs, but more worthy of mention in the context of this blog was Kevin Mossop's first QP on a working bell (ringing a bell involved in the ringing rather than ringing the tenor behind) as he trebled to the 1260 of Plain Bob Doubles at Wissett. Well done Kevin!

And well done to Annie and her band of ringers in Edinburgh for some brilliant ringing PR!

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Thursday 3rd November 2022

Over the summer on the Rambling Ringers Tour to Leicestershire, I remember quizzing Alex Riley on just how he and the Page brothers manage their incredible handbell feats, especially in (often many) multiple methods, with my own rather embarrassing, muddled efforts on eBells at the forefront of my mind. "Muscle memory," came his reply. Whilst I imagine he is being rather modest for the extraordinary success they have had, there is something in it. They ring handbells together and so many of the methods and - more particularly - the elements of work that make up those methods so often, that their brains and limbs just automatically work together as one almost without a thought. It makes sense as when I think about it, it works the same for me and I'm guessing a lot of others when we ring methods that we regularly ring on towerbells, whether that is Plain Bob or Surprise. Stuff that others are yet to get to grips with but which you ring without really thinking. And I believe it might be starting to happen with my eBell ringing too.

Me trying my eBells out. This evening, I returned to it after not getting the opportunity over the last couple of weeks, picking up Yorkshire Surprise Major on 7-8 again. Still I have the same brain freezes when I temporarily forget which way round my bells are or what one of them is doing when focusing too much on the other one, especially in the last lead, but increasingly I'm finding muscle memory carrying me through much of it and there is definitely progress, albeit there remains a lot of work and practice needed to tidy it up.

Woodbridge. Someone from Suffolk who has already got handbell ringing licked is former Ipswich ringer George Salter, who rang 1-2 to a peal of the 'standard' forty-one Surprise Minor methods in Yatton in Somerset and back in his home county it was lovely to hear today about a very successful practice at Woodbridge on Tuesday, with apparently fourteen present, the new ringer Denise who approached us recently given her first go and progress made by other learners and which appears on BellBoard.

Nothing from within our borders from this wet, chilly autumnal day. That summer on the Rambling Ringers Tour seems a long time ago now!

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Wednesday 2nd November 2022

CCCBR President Simon Linford's latest blog is a very upbeat one highlighting all the positive work going on towards the art's future. Much PR nationally and locally including some involving Stephen Stanford (brother of Clopton Ringing Master David), recruitment involving returning ringers, youngsters and scouts - with ringing set to be one of three activities attendees at the Scouts Minehead Jamboree planned for January can try out - and a campaign started called 'Ring for the King'.

Bardwell. Someone who is very active in the exercise's promotion, recruitment and retention is Bardwell's Ruth Suggett, who today was conducting a 1250 of Yorkshire Surprise Major at her home tower, but we weren't as good an advert as we didn't manage any ringing on this blustery Wednesday. For once though, it had nothing to do with Alfie's football training. Rather, it was because Ruthie was singing for the All Souls service at St Mary-the-Virgin in Woodbridge, whilst I was at home with the boys, so there was no Pettistree for us tonight.

Hopefully a typically productive session was still had on the ground-floor six and they at least got the usual quarter-peal beforehand, which on this occasion was a 1319 of Bacup Surprise Minor for the eightieth anniversary of Peter Harper's birth. Very upbeat.

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Tuesday 1st November 2022

Ufford. For a Tuesday, our evening was relatively hectic, as Ruthie had an additional bit of singing practice ahead of a busier week with the choir than usual, before returning in time for some tea and me then going to Ufford's weekly session to help mother-in-law Kate.

It was another night of progress for learners Daniel Atkinson and Margaret Weeks, the former trebling to Plain Hunt on Six, the latter ringing the treble to Cambridge Surprise Minor without anyone standing with her for the first time, with both doing very well.

I was still back in time to watch the latest edition of Have I Got a Bit More News for You, which unexpectedly (especially as it didn't feature in the shortened, original version on Friday) featured ringing off the back of the 'Missing Words' round 37 minutes and 39 seconds in and suggested "tempers were frayed" at a recent meeting of the CCCBR, "as they couldn't agree on a recruitment strategy," descending "into a right ding-dong." The old ones are the best. And at least they didn't suggest it was dangerous this time!

Meanwhile, congratulations to former Suffolk ringer Barrie Hendry, who today rang his three thousandth peal in the 5040 of Doubles at Clevedon in Somerset. Forty-one of those were rung for the Guild (conducting twelve of them), all between the 5184 of fifteen Surprise Major methods spliced at Grundisburgh on 23rd November 1971 and 5024 of Plain Bob Major at Clare on 1st February 1975, whilst I rang two with him on Lundy in October 1999 during a fun few days when I also celebrated my twenty-first birthday.

Back in the county he once resided in, the practice at Offton tonight was preceded with a quarter-peal of Grandsire Triples on the 8cwt ground-floor eight.

We weren't the only ringers within our borders having a hectic Tuesday evening today.

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Monday 31st October 2022

After a week off, predominantly unconcerned with deadlines, and getting up when we liked, it was back to the morning rush ahead of getting our household back to school and work.

With the change of clocks seeing work finishing in darkness at the start of a wet and windy autumnal last evening of October, it all seemed to set a more subdued tone ahead of the weekly St Mary-le-Tower practice, then not helped by a lower than normal attendance with quite a few regulars away on holiday and various other understandable reasons.

Newly framed certificate from National 12-bell Striking Contest. Newly framed certificate from National 12-bell Striking Contest.
Newly framed certificate from National 12-bell Striking Contest

Nonetheless, with the band certificate from the National 12-bell Striking Contest newly framed and sat in the centre of the ringing chamber ready to hang, we still managed quite a bit on ten and twelve, including Stedman Caters, half-courses of Cambridge & Yorkshire Surprise Royal and Grandsire Cinques before we retired to the Halberd Inn. All stuff that many provincial twelves would be absolutely delighted with.

Earlier in the day, The Ringing World arrived at ours on behalf of the Pettistree ringers. There was plenty in it again from around the world of ringing, although - bar the Guild peal on the Norfolk ten of Gressenhall earlier in the month and quarters from within our borders - the closest to Suffolk any content got was the excellent report by Barry Johnson on the new six at St Clement's in Cambridge, geographically at least.

All very interesting to read, even if I didn't have quite as much time to read it as last week!

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Sunday 30th October 2022

Last night was later and boozier than intended and didn't actually end until the early hours. To my eternal shame therefore and despite the extra hour in bed afforded by putting the clocks back overnight, I didn't make it to ringing anywhere this morning.

However, Ruthie had already arranged to get a lift to St Mary-the-Virgin church in Woodbridge with her Gran and so the boys and I went along later in the morning to pick her up from her choral duties, where it was pleasing to see the ringers' recruitment campaign featuring so prominently on the weekly United Benefice e-News, with a piece in the notices titled 'Learn To Ring Bells For The Coronation' and Tuesday night in the calendar highlights that from 7pm until the start of the usual 7.30pm practice is intended to be for 'learners & returners'. Promisingly they already have a learner lined up to join the two more established ones Michael & Meg who have recently begun ringing on Sunday mornings.

Mercifully other ringers were more active, with the peal at St Clement Danes in Westminster of sixteen new Royal methods spliced simultaneously impressing and amusing us Blackadder fans in equal measure!

Sheffield Cathedral.Many of those ringing (seven of the band including winning captain Michael Wilby rang in the 2022 final at Guildford Cathedral) will have noted that entries have now opened for the 2023 National 12-bell Striking Contest and the planned locations for the 2024 and 2025 competitions have been revealed, with next year's intended location of Sheffield Cathedral due to be followed by Chilcompton in Somerset for the final (much earlier in June to usual on the 15th) with eliminators lined up for St Stephen's in Bristol, Portsmouth and Reading on Saturday 23rd March and then God willing the following year the final will be at St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol on Saturday 28th June. We're really hoping that Ipswich can enter again this time round to build upon our unexpected success of this year, both in terms of getting to the final, but also for all that it did to improve our twelve-bell ringing on our own bells. The Suffolk Guild's Centenary Dinner being on the same day is a big complication, but we're hopeful we can do both events.

If we do enter and if I am lucky enough to be selected, I'll try to make sure I can get up for it.

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Saturday 29th October 2022

There were plenty of visitors to our home today, starting with Ruthie's mother Kate and the boys' grandad Ron coming round to put up a mirror and some shelves in our downstairs loo and ending with my wife's schoolfriends Verity & Vicky and their respective partners Jade & Gavin for a takeaway.

In between, my afternoon was mainly spent listening on the radio to the extraordinary Ipswich Town game at Charlton Athletic, whilst just six miles away former local ringer George Salter was impressively ringing the 48cwt tenor at Southwark Cathedral behind a peal of Stedman Cinques. He wasn't the only ringer once of Suffolk ringing a peal in Fabian's principal on twelve, with one-time Exning ringer Jimmy Yeoman ringing the tenth to a 5009 at Stourbridge.

A busy day home and away.

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Friday 28th October 2022

A busy day of peal-ringing in the county today, with three rung successfully.

Ixworth. Horringer.Two of those were for the Peterborough Diocesan Association, which once upon a time was like a second ringing home when my brother Chris & I were children and regularly visited Thrapston in Northamptonshire, home to both a 14cwt eight and back then our maternal grandparents and then just Grandad. There was local representation though in the 5008 of Double Norwich Court Bob Major at Ixworth and 5088 of Dereham Surprise Major at Horringer, with Alan Mayle conducting the former.

Grundisburgh.And the third peal was a bona fide Suffolk Guild effort, with another 5200 of Cambridge Surprise Royal rung within our borders to mark the two hundredth anniversary of the first of the method in the medium, this time rung at Grundisburgh in 3hr 3min. An impressive response this week from the SGR to this significant anniversary.

Additionally, this was the seventy-first peal of 2022 for the Guild. At the start of the year, I noted that for the organisation to reach it's 10,000th peal during it's centenary year of 2023, we would need to ring seventy-one peals in each of this year and next. To reach this year's end of the bargain already, especially in the difficult circumstances we found ourselves in back on 1st January is a credit to our members.

Nothing like that for us as instead half-term continued with visits to my Mum and then Ruthie's Gran where my wife's cousins Freddie & Poppy were already in residence, we were later joined by her sister Clare and her other half Chris fresh from holiday and then their Uncle Wob on a lively afternoon for our host!

We did see ringers today though, as we joined Simon Rudd (himself fresh from the aforementioned peal in the little wobbly red brick tower earlier) in his virtual pub where some were in a hotel room in Weston-super-Mare ahead of peal-ringing in the area over the weekend, others were preparing to set off on a quarter-peal week in Norfolk and practical jokes became a big topic of conversation.

Bardwell.Meanwhile, the QP of Plain Bob Minor at Bardwell showed how footnotes can tell a story and in this case a sad one, rung as it was in memory of Tim Cavell who rang at the 11cwt eight and following so soon after a quarter was rung there in July in memory of his wife Janice. The photo attached to both performances seems particularly poignant now and our thoughts are with their family.

Tostock.On a happier note, the 1259 of Single Oxford Bob Minor at Tostock was the first in the method for Clare Gebel and rung as a birthday compliment to conductor Lesley Steed's brother-in-law. Happy Birthday Iain and well done Clare, on a busy day of ringing in the county.

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Thursday 27th October 2022

If you wish to order a lunch at the White Horse in Chedgrave for the South-East District Outing due to take place on Saturday 5th November, you'll need to get them to organiser and District Ringing Master Jenny Scase by the end of this week, Friday 28th October. It should be a fantastic event taking in a good mix of fives, sixes and eights, going as it does just north of the Norfolk border to Raveningham, Norton Subcourse, Loddon, Berg Apton, Brooke and Woodton, all being well.

St Matthew. Fressingfield. Buxhall. St Gregory. Ufford.

Along with the usual first Thursday practice at St Matthew's in Ipswich, it is the start of what is planned to be a busy month from next Tuesday, which - if all goes to plan - also includes three District ADMs. These are important, but social events. Officers who will hope to help progress the ringing of members throughout the following year will be elected and there may be other issues that it will be good to discuss with a quorum present. It is a pity that both the North-East's at Fressingfield and North-West's at Buxhall are slated for the same afternoon on the 12th, but hopefully both will have big attendances and the same will be true of the South-West's penciled in for a fortnight later at St Gregory's in Sudbury. And although booked in for December, the South-East's at Ufford on the third day of Advent (According to the chocolate Advent calendar. Ed) is also worth noting.

Looking back meanwhile, some of you will have been aware that the London 12 Bell Striking Competition was held at St Paul's Cathedral on Saturday and featured Suffolk connections. For not only was the front cover of the event's program adorned by a typically astonishing drawing of the contest venue from Norman Tower ringer Ben Keating, but St Mary-le-Tower ringer Colin Salter was in one of the College Youths teams. Although his team 'Bradford' came eighth out of the ten participating bands, it is great to see a local ringer involved. Well done to ASCY 'Marchbank' on coming first.

There was nothing anywhere near as exciting for us today. Indeed, this was the only day this week that Ruthie was at work and whilst the boys had a lazy day on the sofa after a half-term of baking and pumpkin picking, I set about the kind of housework that doesn't usually get done when we're both at work and/or ringing. Make sure you get yours done and free up the time to get along to the South-East District Outing.

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Wednesday 26th October 2022

On 26th October 1822, a band at Wakefield rang the first ever peal of Cambridge Surprise Royal. Precisely two hundred years later, that 5400 was replicated at the same tower with the same composition. It was also celebrated with peals of the method at Duffield in Derbyshire and Tulloch in Scotland. And here in Suffolk, at Stradbroke.

Our nod to ringing's forebears actually came about in quite a strange way. Having initially forgotten about the anniversary that I'd noted a year ago, a few weeks ago I asked Guild Chairman Rowan Wilson to check if she was organising one of the regular Wednesday peals that have been great for getting peal-ringing in the county going again, keen to avoid starting to arrange an attempt only to find eight ringers were already booked up. It was a good job that I did, as it transpired an attempt of Major was indeed lined up for Orford and Rowan very kindly offered her band (providing they were happy of course!), providing I could find a tenth ringer alongside myself and a tower. An initial enquiry at Coggeshall south of the River Stour was unsuccessful in getting the bells, but saw the band completed with the Tower Correspondent there, Brian Meads. With the new tens at Combs and Stowmarket still works in progress and Sudbury St Peter's out of action currently, it became apparent that it was going to be harder than expected to find a ring of bells, but after further enquiries we were very enthusiastically and generously welcomed by Peter at the 20cwt ten of All Saints.

Stradbroke. Stradbroke.
© 2022 Richard Munnings

These do come with their challenges. There is no local band there and therefore very little ringing, so the go maybe isn't as smooth as at some places and the sound of the ninth and tenor (which sit below the front eight) shouting down through the gap in the corner where the clock weight hangs is quite overpowering! Still, the band worked hard and scored a reasonable 5200.

At 3hr 35min, it seems to have taken an abnormally long time, even taking into account the extra changes and although it was slower than I would've cared for (heaving any big bell up to the balance so much is harder work than moving things along in my experience), it was surprising that it took that long to come round, especially as most peals of Royal in recent years have been half an hour shorter! Still, we were able to mark a significant ringing event and with some very good ringing.

We certainly felt we'd earnt our lovely post-ringing lunch in The Ivy House across this bustling, almost old-style village, where we heard tales from Mr Meads of the recent ringing trip to Dordrecht in the Netherlands to celebrate Essex ringer Jon Water's fortieth birthday. Jon is a talented ringer who has also been very generous with his time in ringing peals within our borders and is a lovely chap to boot, so Happy Birthday for last week Jon!
Mike Cowling and myself heard more about the visit at Pettistree's weekly practice later from Mark Ogden who had also been, ringing in a pair of peals of Cambridge Surprise Royal in the new ten at the Grote Kerk and of the Major variety on the more established eight in 't Klockhuys.

By that point, I had taken Alfie to football training and Mark & Mike had rung in 1300th quarter-peal on the rehung ground-floor six at St Peter and St Paul, which was also rather wonderfully dedicated to this blog's fifteenth birthday! Thank you guys!

The session itself was typically eclectic, useful and generally well-struck, with more Plain Hunt focus for John Horsnell, Sam Shannon returned to trebling to Grandsire Doubles having been away for a bit and following on from the QP of Allendale, there was more Surprise Minor in the form of Bourne, Cambridge, Carlisle, London and Norwich.

And it was all topped with the reopening of The Greyhound. It has to be said, things have been changed here, with new seating, some of the clutter from around the bar taken out and a greater emphasis on the restaurant (and pricy at that!), which meant that there was nowhere for us ringers to sit, especially on this opening night. However, pleasingly, the character of this ancient inn remains and the new owners seem friendly and keen to accept drinkers and dogs, as well as celebrities such as Hollywood Oscar nominated actor Keira Knightley who had apparently been in earlier in the evening.

I hope she enjoyed the bells, as I hope that the residents of Stradbroke did this morning as we marked that significant peal at Wakefield on 26th October 2022.

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Tuesday 25th October 2022

On the day this blog has turned fifteen, some numbers indicate how long I've been writing this daily over its 5,466 days.

Pettistree.According to BellBoard, I have rung 314 quarter-peals in that time, starting with a 1265 of Stedman Doubles at Pettistree for the sixty-fifth birthday of Peter Harper, which I rang with Ruthie, indicating how different our lives were back then, especially on a Wednesday!

Grundisburgh. The magnificent Pealbase (I've lost count of how many times I've mentioned Andrew Craddock's invaluable resource on here over the last fifteen years) tells me I have rung 333 peals in the same period, the first of which was a 5040 of Cambridge Surprise Royal on the back ten at Grundisburgh on the old 8cwt tenor there. That success (although the blog entry of 27th October 2007 reminds me that it was originally an attempt of Maximus that was then reduced to ten due to one of the band, Paul Harden, being stranded in Eastern Europe by a cancelled flight) was my fifty-first peal of the sixty I rang in my busiest ever year for peal-ringing. By contrast, my last peal was over two months ago and just my sixth of 2022. By way of comparison to another common reference in my decade and a half of blogging, PB says that Colin Turner has rung 2,865 peals (though BB says 2,861) since 25/10/07 to a record 7,894 in total, although his 'just' 107 thus far this year is lagging behind Jack Page's 210 since the end of 2021, a ringer who was still almost four years from ringing his first peal when I began writing this blog and yet whose brace in Tulloch today takes him to 1,219 in total!

God willing I'll be adding to my totals this week, although in a sign of our current circumstances I have been invited in another two that I could - and almost certainly would - have agreed to in 2007.

Ufford. Over the fifteen years of blogging I spent two years as Ringing Master at St Mary-le-Tower and four years as RM of the Guild, a role I unexpectedly resumed again at Ufford practice this evening with mother-in-law and usual tower captain Kate Eagle unavailable to run things on this occasion. Tuesday nights have typically been a night free from ringing over most of my ramblings, but it has been quite satisfying to help regulars Daniel and Margaret from Hollesley to progress in recent weeks, something which continued tonight as the former turned his attentions to ring Plain Hunt on Five on a bell other than the treble, the latter to honing her ringing inside to Grandsire Doubles and trebling to Surprise Minor and both to having another go at Plain Hunt on Seven.

Throughout my jottings, my main focus has been ringing, but my intention from the start was to highlight the everyday life and other things that I fit my ringing in amongst and a big part of that has been following the trials and tribulations of Ipswich Town. In that time they have played 685 league matches and won 248 of them, the latest of which was appropriately enough tonight in a 3-2 win at Port Vale in their League One fixture, precisely fifteen years after a nine-month-old Mason and I met ITFC players Jon Walters and Gary Roberts at a time when the club were in the Championship.

Mason's growth from that baby in casts from his operations for his club foot to a fifteen-year-old at the start of his final year of secondary school is a big part of another element of the non-ringing content in this ringing blog, which also includes an eight-year-old Alfie now playing for a football team and six-year-old Joshua who is enjoying a life of dance and ducks. And of course Ruthie, my wife of now ten years who has shown tremendous patience whilst I write my meandering entries, for which I am eternally grateful!

It was my wife and two youngest sons who I spent today with on another day off over half-term, as we spent the afternoon at Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm picking pumpkins to be carved for Halloween, a task duly undertaken before I'd even left for ringing this evening!

I am also grateful for the patience of SGR Webmaster Chris Garner for his time in putting my jottings, links and photos up, alongside the work he already does on what I and many others consider to be one of the very best ringing websites around. Thank you also to his wife Mary for her patience whilst he does it!

Meanwhile, the blog's significant date will also be considered significant in Westminster politics (for now) as King Charles III met with Rishi Sunak to confirm the latter as the UK's latest Prime Minister. That is to say, the second monarch of this blog's lifetime met its sixth PM.

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Monday 24th October 2022

The ringing centres at Norwich and Worcester are incredible resources. They're not just for the ringers of St Peter Mancroft and the Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary or even for the cities that they are centrepieces of respectively. Not even just for Norfolk and Worcestershire, but for their entire region and beyond. Back in 2009, the North-West District travelled a great distance to visit the latter, whilst recently the former has played host to the Suffolk Guild and other ringers from further afield, such as Goldhanger in Essex.

Having something similar at St Mary-le-Tower, with similar ambitions was the subject of the meeting that curtailed this evening's weekly practice. Up to this point, the notion was merely a desire, particularly of Amanda Richmond and Jonathan Williamson who are currently spending huge amounts of time teaching the encouragingly large numbers of learners in and around Ipswich, but also a number of others, myself included. Tonight was about getting members of the St Mary-le-Tower Society of Change Ringers (including George Heath-Collins, who was elected a member before the meeting - congratulations George!) together to get everyone's thoughts on the project and hopefully agree on a way forward, if there was even enough support among the membership for it to go ahead at all.

For whilst on the face of it this is an exciting prospect and seemingly a win-win situation when one looks at the success of the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre and the Worcester Cathedral Teaching Centre, there are legitimate concerns, some of which were playing on my mind too. Although there were options for one or two teaching bells, it soon became very clear that the favoured option if we were going to do anything was for a training ring of six. Instantly, one challenge presents itself. Unlike the aforementioned, well-established ringing centres that have space below their ringing chambers in the tall towers they are based in, we don't have that luxury at St Mary-le-Tower. That would mean that the ropes would be in a circle falling within the rope circle of the existing twelve, with a table and computer equipment within that. Therefore, how would the training ring ropes be secured safely out of the way when we want to ring the normal bells? And would there be space for the equipment in the centre of the room, where currently the age-old table sits? Could the floor above take the extra weight? Would the acoustics be affected? Why here? Why at all?

St Mary-le-Tower. St Mary-le-Tower.
The layout at St Mary-le-Tower currently

After over an hour of discussion, many of those questions were answered, in part by Neil Thomas of Matthew Higby & Company Ltd (who are considered the go-to experts on such things), both through a text exchange between Amanda and him as we went along and also through the research he'd done beforehand that reassured us that ropes could be safely secured, the equipment won't take up as much room as the table currently does, the floor would be strong enough and if anything the bells will be clearer due to the extra holes in the ceiling.

Additionally, St Mary-le-Tower was considered the best location in the town due to various reasons clarified when Neil was taken round other possible locations. One was that gallery rings would only be available for sessions when there was nothing else going on in the church and therefore more restricted. Using somewhere like St Clement's or St Mary-at-Quay would require going through third parties as well, whilst St Nicholas' church is in the process of being sold. On top of that, there was nowhere else with the room for six training bells and the existing bells.

Also, it was recognised why there was a need. Yes, teaching can, has been and is being done here, but it is either eating into the twelve-bell ringing that is the reason that many travel big distances to here regularly or needing tied bells, which takes time to set up and is also a potential health and safety issue.

Ultimately, it was decided to go ahead with starting the process, but that isn't the same as saying it is definitely happening. A business plan has been asked for, legal aspects need to be met and how we raise the money that will be needed considered, especially in these times of rising costs, but importantly everyone is on board, even if some are still understandably cautious. Watch this space!

Beforehand, the ringing unusually hadn't been at its best by the high standards here, with lower numbers perhaps not helped by the early finish, but it was still useful for many of the learners on eight, ten and twelve and after the meeting we retired to the Halberd Inn for a drink with the Reverend Tom Mumford who had guided proceedings superbly as the chair of the meeting.

Earlier in the day, David Stanford - who had been present this evening - had rung his first quarter-peal of Treble Bob in hand in the 1312 of Kent TB Major in Moats Tye. Well done David!

Meanwhile, just days after the previous week's edition of The Ringing World had arrived with us, the latest copy turned up this morning and as I was off work today at the start of half-term, I had time to read it in amongst other adventures like buying bathroom mirrors and bookshelves on day when it went almost unnoted that yet another new Prime Minister has been 'elected'.

Personally, I felt there were much more interesting things going on at St Mary-le-Tower.

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Sunday 23rd October 2022

The Norman Tower. The quarter-peal of Yorkshire Surprise Maximus at The Norman Tower this afternoon is part of a welcome push there to progress twelve-bell ringing, which also includes a focus on more advanced twelve-bell ringing at their practice night on the second Thursday of the month. Ringing on higher numbers is really undergoing a bit of a renaissance in Suffolk as a whole, with two entries in the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest this year, high hopes of holding the final in Bury St Edmunds in the next few years, five peals of Maximus and one of Cinques rung over this year and 2019 either side of the pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, and a lot more attempts lined up for the centenary year of the SGR. Additionally, on ten, we have won the last two Ridgman Trophy competitions, have at least two peal attempts of Cambridge Surprise Royal planned within our borders in the coming days to mark Wednesday's two hundredth anniversary of the first ever peal in the method to add to the three peals of Royal and one of Caters already rung for the Guild in 2022, whilst we await the culmination Beccles. of the exciting project at Sudbury St Peter that includes the 20cwt ten and anticipate the proposed new tens at Combs and Stowmarket. Now is a good time if you ring in the county and want to delve into ten and twelve-bell ringing. Please do feel free to approach the bands at Grundisburgh, St Mary-le-Tower and The Norman Tower and circle Saturday 15th April in your 2023 Ringing World Diary (which is now on sale) so you can ring on the 25cwt ten at Beccles for the Guild AGM.

Having said all that, I didn't do any ringing on ten or twelve today, as instead the boys and I went to church at St Mary-the-Virgin in Woodbridge, preceding it with three rings upstairs and following that the highlight of our day was putting a clock on our dining room wall. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun? Hopefully not on this occasion.

Although hopefully it did for the band at The Norman Tower this afternoon.

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Saturday 22nd October 2022

Every Saturday morning, I receive an email from Ringing Forums, with a digest of the week's discussions. The intention is that this is a proper forum for discussing ringing-related topics without the sniping that can occur on social media.

This morning, subjects included debate on direct membership of ringing organisations, teachers in the exercise, hard hats in belfries, roll-up banners and ringing from place notation and I again encourage readers to take a look and get involved.

Not that either of us were getting involved or indeed getting involved with any ringing generally as instead parenthood took over with football training for Josh and a pirate-themed birthday party at Woodbridge Community Hall that the boys attended.

Bardwell.Other ringers in Suffolk were busier though, with Claire Free marking the fortieth anniversary of her first quarter-peal - rung at Wormingford in Essex on 21st October 1982 conducted by the much-missed Bernard Fairhead - with her first of Plain Bob Major in the 1344 at Bardwell today. Well done & congratulations Claire, who seems to have been a big part of ringing in that part of the county.

Tostock. Meanwhile, yesterday's QP of Hull Surprise Minor rung at Tostock made an appearance on BB this evening, bookending a day that began with that email from Ringing Forums.

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Friday 21st October 2022

Last week's copy of The Ringing World finally arrived with us today, no doubt delayed by postal strikes. Featured in amongst its pages was mention of Meg Cook and Michael Barrett's recent first Sunday morning ringing at Woodbridge in 'What's Hot on BellBoard', highlighting how important such a step is.

Fortunately, I just about got time to read it at lunchtime as there wasn't time to this evening. For once home from work, Mason collected and tea devoured by all five of us, we were straight out the door and into Ipswich to meet Norman Tower ringer and my brother Chris to watch the Tractor Boys (unusually for a home match wearing black) win 1-0 against Derby County in a match moved from tomorrow to tonight in order to be shown on TV.

We missed Simon Rudd, both on his usual weekly virtual pub and at the ground, but he still features in this blog for marking fifty years of peal-ringing by conducting a 5184 of Bristol Surprise Major, rung at Ardleigh for the Essex Association (as was his first on 21st October 1972), but featuring a number of Suffolk ringers. Congratulations Simon!

I hope to be able to read about in The Ringing World, once the post allows it to get here.

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Thursday 20th October 2022

It wasn't the main headline from her announcement, but Liz Truss' decision today to resign as Prime Minister after just forty-five days could mean that she is the first PM under whom I haven't rung a peal since Margaret Thatcher, depending on when her replacement is announced (it could be as early as Monday afternoon) and/or the success of my next planned peal attempt.

No ringing of any length for us today, even on eBells as once I'd got the boys to bed, time had run away with me a bit, but there was a lovely reminder of last night's ringing when one of our visitors at Pettistree left a glowing report of the welcome they'd received at the ground-floor six.

It doesn't look like Liz Truss will get such a glowing report.

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Wednesday 19th October 2022


Pettistree.Ringing's unique (or certainly rare) selling point that any ringer can travel pretty much anywhere in the world where change-ringing is being done and join in was in evidence on this otherwise nondescript Wednesday evening, as Pettistree's practice was joined by the Watsons of Hertfordshire, a husband and wife team who were able to ring anything we could in a session that included Carlisle, Ipswich & Norwich Surprise Minor, as well as a touch of 'messing about', which tonight was various spliced Doubles and Minor methods.

And that's just what was rung after I managed to get there after Alfie's football training, with even a brief burst on handbells very kindly brought along by Mike Cowling, as I rang 1-2 to a course of Plain Bob Minor in the chancel, with Mike on 3-4 and Mark Ogden on 5-6.

Although the practice was preceded by a quarter-peal, there was still no post-ringing drink. Hopefully that will change very shortly though, with The Greyhound due to be open by next Wednesday, I believe. Although that is sadly too late for our visiting ringers this evening.

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Tuesday 18th October 2022

Ufford. Sometimes less is more. With quite a few away from Ufford practice, there were just six there this evening. However, that opened an opportunity for some focus that Hollesley learner Daniel Atkinson wouldn't have otherwise got on this occasion as we set out on a 120 of Plain Bob Doubles on the back six. And then another one. Then another. In fact, ten in total plus a 60 before mother-in-law Kate called it round and he'd rung his first quarter-peal on a working bell. He rang it well too, having progressed well over the last few weeks both here and presumably at his home tower, counting his places and striking it well, with only nods and occasional corrective instruction necessary. Well done Daniel!

Offton. Ours wasn't the only QP rung in Suffolk today either, as Offton's weekly Tuesday session was preceded with a 1344 of Double Norwich Court Bob Major on the 8cwt ground-floor eight where more was just right.

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Monday 17th October 2022

St Mary-le-Tower. I have to confess to getting a little distracted by the FA Cup first round draw involving Ipswich Town and Needham Market on the TV this evening, which meant that I got to St Mary-le-Tower practice later than I usually do. Although I got there in time to contribute to a session that included Erin Caters, Stedman Cinques and Yorkshire Surprise Maximus, as well as rounds on twelve for our learners, the majority of it well rung on an encouraging night, I shall have to try and get there sooner in a week. For next Monday, ringing is due to finish at 8.30pm for an Extraordinary General Meeting of the St Mary-le-Tower Society of Change Ringers to discuss possible options for training facilities, so if you are planning on joining us then please do take that into consideration and get there as early as you can.

Our efforts tonight finished as normal at 9pm though and was followed by a drink in the Halberd Inn where the turnout was so large that the seating arrangements more resembled the vast ringing circle at Guildford Cathedral! It was a nice way to round off the evening, even if it was shorter than usual for me.

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Sunday 16th October 2022

Grundisburgh. This morning at Grundisburgh, the subject of ringing terms came up. One ringer professed they didn't know that the two blows in fourths when a bob is called in Plain Bob Doubles is known as 'making the bob'. Other familiar names such as 'fish tales' and 'cat's ears' were brought up before Ringing Master Stephen Pettman mentioned that 'Leiston chimneys' had once been explained to him, but he had forgotten now what they are exactly, although we assume it has something to do with places. Perhaps someone reading this knows?

The PB was followed up with a touch of Grandsire Triples with a 'hunt bell' in each lead of course, whilst we rang the Cinques version earlier at St Mary-le-Tower as well as Little Bob Maximus, whilst in between the boys and I joined my fellow ringers for our usual visit to Costa Coffee for post-ringing refreshment, where it was pleasing to hear about yesterday's sessions at the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre.

Meanwhile, please do donate if you can to Ipswich ringer Colin Salter and his brother and former local ringer George who are raising money for Blood Cancer UK by running in next year's London Marathon, something very close to their hearts following the death last year of their father and twice-Past Ringing Master of the Suffolk Guild, David, as well his brother and their uncle Martin who died last month, also of Myelodysplastic Syndrome.

Woodbridge. I can't claim to have been anywhere near as active as Colin & George, but once I'd done my service ringing on the county's two oldest twelves, I was on the move again as myself, Alfie and Joshua went to St Mary-the-Virgin's in Woodbridge to pick up their mother following her choral duties. Whilst there, we were asked to chat with a lady called Denise who is keen to learn to ring, looking for something new to do. Details were taken and passed to Bruce Wakefield the Ringing Master there and hopefully she will soon be joining the two learners Meg & Michael that they already have and who knows, a potential future SGR member!

Blythburgh. If she chooses to, she would be entering a limitless art that allows for cross-country friendships that can produce footnotes such as those to today's handbell peal in Birmingham and the quarter-peal at Oxford Cathedral. Even if she doesn't set her sights as high as that, there are opportunities within our borders for those who wish, as exhibited by the 1380 of Plain Bob Minor at Blythburgh for the eightieth birthday of the Rev Bill Mahood, an Honorary Chaplain to the North-East District.

She may even be tempted into a set of eBells if she really, really gets into it and with Ruthie out with her sister, mother and the boys' Grandad Ron watching Dawn French at the Ipswich Regent and once I'd got the boys to bed, I got mine out for what is thus far my best performance of Yorkshire Surprise Major on 7-8 on Ringing Room with Wheatley. With lots of 'Yorkshire places'.

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Saturday 15th October 2022


Apart from not doing any ringing, the perfect Saturday birthday was laid out today. Watching Alfie playing in goal for his team, then Ipswich Town playing at home to Lincoln City and Ruthie making a Chinese 'fakeaway' on our return home. Needless to say, for all their vast improvement this season, it was the Tractor Boys who let us down, but it was still an absolutely fabulous day.

Alfred's team won away with another clean sheet on a sunny morning and even though ITFC lost, our afternoon was an enjoyable one as Joshua, Alfie & I got to meet club legend Pablo Couñago, although we missed out on meeting ringing legend Simon Rudd who got to Portman Road later than usual after running a session at Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre in Norwich that later saw Suffolk Guild members taking advantage of this superb facility. And it was great to see my brother and Norman Tower ringer Chris who sat with us as a frustrating ninety minutes unfolded.

Fakeaway. Once back home, my wife produced our fantastic tea. I'm not normally one for taking photos of my food, but I couldn't resist recording my plateful that for all the world looked like a takeaway Chinese but for a fraction of the cost and undoubtedly much healthier! We even had the added and unexpected bonus of a visit from sister-in-law Clare, her other half Chris and the boys' cousins.

Meanwhile, thank you to everyone for the text messages, Facebook messages and especially donations to Great Ormond Street.

Other than an Ipswich Town win and a spot of ringing, there wasn't much else that one would expect for the perfect Saturday birthday!

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Friday 14th October 2022

Grote Kerk, Dordrecht. British politics' latest day of chaos (rumours that Guild Treasurer Stephen Cheek was in line to be the new Chancellor were quashed by Jeremy Hunt being the latest to get the role, but we all must be due a go at some point in the coming weeks) was inevitably a subject of conversation at Simon Rudd's Friday night virtual pub, but so was one of the attendee's forthcoming planned peal-ringing trip to Dordrecht in the Netherlands and a busy day lined up at the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre tomorrow, much of it slated for Suffolk's ringers.

One former Suffolk ringer was achieving as one-time Exning learner Jimmy Yeoman rang his first peal of Triples and Major spliced and Stedman in hand in the 5080 in Selly Oak, but there was no ringing for us today as we left the day clear. Just in case we were called upon as Chancellor.

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Thursday 13th October 2022

What will life look like in 2030? And what will ringing look like?

Of course we can't be sure. Eight years ago, very few of us would have anticipated the pandemic and the effects it would have, such as working from home being a perfectly normal and even usual thing for many workers, myself included. Or being able to ring with ringers based around the world in the same band as can be done on Ding, Handbell Stadium and Ringing Room. And less positively, the loss of ringers from many bands and the reduction in ringing activity.

At the end of this decade, how many churches will still be open? How accessible will transport be, especially in this rural county of ours? More pertinently, who will ring bells?

St Margaret. St Mary-le-Tower. St Matthew. Bramford. Tuddenham St Martin.

I have been encouraged by much in the Guild since our return from those dark days of lockdowns. The numbers of peals rung is at its highest for this point in the calendar for four years. Much activity is planned for the centenary of the Guild in 2023. There have been a healthy number of ringers ringing their first quarter-peal, most recently Kim Rutter-Moye at Tostock earlier this week. Across Suffolk, recruitment has been heartening, particularly in and around Ipswich where a huge number are being helped at St Margaret's, St Mary-le-Tower, St Matthew's and at Bramford where a new band has been formed, whilst there is the possibility of another new band at Tuddenham St Martin.

However, it is noticeable that we haven't entered a band from within our borders to the Ringing World National Youth Contest for several years and whereas we once had a thriving and large group of youngsters from across the county who used to regularly meet and ring QPs together, I'm struggling to think of more than a handful under the age of twenty, whilst I'm wracking my brain to think of anyone under the age of eighteen who has rung a peal for the SGR in the last couple of years. I have long extolled the virtues of ringers who start at a later stage in life, with the late Susan Schurr at Pettistree being the best example, not learning until she was seventy-two and yet ringing at least fifty quarters. Many can offer years of loyal service and can be more dependable than youngsters, especially as teenagers will often be lost to university and moving away for work, but it is vitally important for the art as a whole that we get more young ringers coming through. Ruthie and I can testify from our own efforts with our own children to get them engaged in the exercise how hard that can be though, competing with technology, football and the like and so we need to find new ways to appeal to youngsters and society more widely.

The Central Council agree and the future of ringing is a prominent theme on their website, both with a page dedicated to it and in President Simon Linford's latest blog as he updates readers on the CCCBR's dealings with Yellowyoyo, the agency briefed with marketing ringing.

Meanwhile, an email from South-East District Ringing Master Jenny Scase sent via the Guild informs members that the District is planning their annual outing on Saturday 5th November, going just north of the Norfolk border and with a link to a programme. Regardless of whether you are from the SE or not, all would be welcome and I would encourage all who can to pop along for a day in a nice part of the world not too far away for what should be an enjoyable and useful day of ringing.

Richy's eBells.With Ruthie practicing with her choral colleagues and me therefore looking after the boys at home, my ringing today was done a lot closer still. In fact, as close as I could get as I practiced more Yorkshire Surprise Major on 7-8 on my eBells with Wheatley on Ringing Room from the comfort of our living room. I couldn't have imagined doing that eight years ago!

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Wednesday 12th October 2022

Alfie's football practice this evening was a very soggy experience, although cheerfully endured by him and his peers.

Pettistree.Perhaps ironically, the wet stuff had stopped falling by the time my night's activities had moved indoors for a Pettistree practice that began and ended for me with courses of Ipswich Surprise Minor but was preceded by others with an impressive quarter-peal of eleven Surprise Minor methods spliced very kindly dedicated to the anniversary of my birth due to occur on Saturday.

That wasn't the only performance from Suffolk ringers today, with a peal of Yorkshire Surprise Royal rung for the Guild on Norfolk soil at Gressenhall in memory of Jimmy Wightman on the day of his funeral at Otley. And further afield, well done to former Reydon ringer Philip Moyse who rang his first peal of treble bob on handbells with the 5088 of Kent TB Major that he rang 7-8 to in Bristol.

I'm pleased to see that ringing has been able to continue through the rain.

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Tuesday 11th October 2022

Simon Knott's Suffolk Churches website is well used by me, full of gems of information about the ancient buildings in various rural idylls and market towns that we are blessed to ring in regularly and occasionally mentioning bells, ringing and ringers, especially his entry for Stonham Aspal. However, it was when flicking through his Twitter feed that I found an interesting tweet that emphasised how important bells were in the marking of Elizabeth II's death, as he had shared a video taken outside St Mary-le-Tower of the tolling being done by David Potts, Colin Salter, Richard Weeks and Jonathan & Sue Williamson on the heaviest bell hung for change-ringing in the county on the day after the Queen's passing. Dotted around the churchyard were a number people standing and listening, whilst the thread that follows shares further videos from others of bells being rung around the country, as well as various lovely comments about the sound.

Entirely coincidentally but appropriately, after I'd found that it was confirmed that the coronation of King Charles III is being planned for Saturday 6th May next year, which as things stand is when the South-East District are due to hold their striking competition. Pain as that may be to rearrange, I can't imagine with this amount of notice it will be too difficult to move it to one of the Saturday's either side of the original date and of course it offers ringing generally another opportunity to shine.

Meanwhile, like last year, I am doing a fundraiser via Facebook for Great Ormond Street for the anniversary of my birth, which is due to occur on Saturday. People - and ringers especially - were very generous twelve months ago for a charity that helped Mason greatly with sorting his feet out and it would be wonderful if they could be again, although of course it will be harder for so many as the cost of everything goes up.

A week after that, the South-West District are slated to hold their monthly practice, which this month is penciled in for the 12cwt six of Great Thurlow, as an email from SW Ringing Master David Lee sent via the Guild's email reminded members today. Please do support it if you can.

I was supporting some ringing this evening, as along with Pete Faircloth I was collected by mother-in-law Kate Eagle for Ufford's weekly practice, whilst before theirs, Offton rang a 1260 of Erin Triples in memory of Jimmy Wightman. Further west, well done to Kim Rutter-Moye who was ringing her first quarter-peal in the success at Tostock, which is hopefully the first of many! And not far away, a peal of Bristol Surprise Major was rung at Ixworth.

As well as my ringing and reading Simon's Suffolk Churches website, I also grabbed a read of the most recent edition of The Ringing World, which features the recent SGR peals at Horringer, The Norman Tower and Elveden. All churches visited by ourselves and Simon Knott.

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Monday 10th October 2022

St Mary-le-Tower. Tower Street in Ipswich was a hive of activity with roadworkers as I arrived and left St Mary-le-Tower for the weekly practice there tonight, presumably dealing with some emergency for them to be out at such a time on a chilly evening. In between our arrival and departure, us ringers at the 35cwt twelve a few yards away gave them something that I hope was a pleasant backdrop to their work.

It was certainly a productive session for the learners there. Sonia, Will and George rang in some rounds on twelve, with the latter also bonging behind superbly to some Stedman Triples on the front eight and Sonia also trebling to Little Bob Royal and Sue Williamson rang well inside to some Grandsire Cinques, but there was also Stedman Caters and half a course of Cambridge & Yorkshire Surprise Royal before we retired to the Halberd Inn for refreshment.

Hopefully those workers enjoyed it.

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Sunday 9th October 2022

Woodbridge. For one reason or another, it has been quite some time since I rang at Woodbridge on a Sunday morning. July, I make it. Therefore, I was delighted to climb the many steps to the ringing chamber from where the 25cwt eight is rung, especially as we were running particularly late this morning.

Delighted as well to meet learners Meg & Michael, whilst I manned the stay-less second. Great to see more learners progressing, along with those in Ipswich and elsewhere.

The two pieces I held on to the 7cwt bell at St Mary-the Virgin for, were the only ringing I did today though, as the rest of our day was set aside for meeting up with Ruthie's vast family at Rendlesham Forest for some den building, before we retired to her Gran's for copious amounts of food.

The Norman Tower. Other ringers were ringing in Suffolk though, most notably at The Norman Tower where Ben Keating rang his first quarter-peal of Cambridge Surprise Royal. Well done Ben!

Delightful to see, as it is to ring at Woodbridge again.

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Saturday 8th October 2022

Delighted to hear from Guild Public Relations Officer Neal Dodge that today's North-West District Outing to north Essex was attended by about thirty people and went well, despite a bit of excitement at the first tower!

Sproughton.Neal also brought my attention to a George Pipe ink drawing that has gone to auction. Many of us have been privileged to have received a GWP drawing, with the great man generously producing one of St Mary-le-Tower for our wedding ten years ago, which still hangs prominently in our living room. I can't imagine many come up for auction, primarily because once you have one you like to keep it, so it will be interesting to see how it goes. The opening price for his drawing of All Saints church in Sproughton is £25, with an auctioneer's estimate of £40-60, which sounds like a bargain!

Earl Stonham.There was no ringing today on the 8cwt ground-floor six that my brother Chris and I learnt to ring at, at least not any mentioned on BellBoard and indeed, although further afield there was a notable 10304 changes of Norman Smith's twenty-three Surprise Major spliced rung at Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire (where I rang a peal of Bristol Surprise Major in 2001), there was nothing else mentioned anywhere else in Suffolk, although a quarter-peal rung yesterday at Earl Stonham has now appeared, remembering Chris Barker following the service of thanksgiving at Otley for him.

And there was no ringing for us either, with our day instead consisting of watching Alfie play his latest match in the company of his cousins and Granny Kate and then Ruthie going to a wedding reception of one of her work colleagues.

All the more reason to be delighted that the North-West District Outing went so well!

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Friday 7th October 2022

No ringing for us today, but we did meet with ringers at Simon Rudd's virtual pub where the highlight was introducing Julian Colman to Chris Kamara via the latter's most famous video.

Others in the county were doing ringing though, with Andrea Alderton ringing her most Surprise Minor methods spliced with the 1272 of Cambridge, Ipswich, Norfolk & Primrose. Well done Andrea!

Ringing was also discussed though, with tomorrow's North-West District Outing to north Essex, the Suffolk Guild Dinner and our host's busy day of ringing that took in four quarter-peals.

Otherwise it was a quiet day which was more memorable for Ed Sheeran appearing on the Cornhill for a surprise gig in Ipswich round the corner from St Mary-le-Tower and St Lawrence and me seeing a Christmas advert on the TV for the first time this year.

As Chris Kamara would say (this is one for you footy fans reading!), "unbelievable Jeff."

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Thursday 6th October 2022

It was a slightly more logistically challenging Thursday evening to normal, as alongside Ruthie's choral practicing, the boys had another birthday party at Play2Day in Martlesham.

Still, I got the opportunity to do some more eBell practicing with Wheatley on Ringing Room. Tonight, I tried to build on last week's attempts at ringing a course of Yorkshire Surprise Major on 7-8. I sort of managed it, although the results were from satisfactory. I am fully on top of where my bells should be, but my hands don't always put them the right way round. Throw in the occasional internet disruption and it was quite messy, but it marks considerable progress for me from when I started!

And on this occasion, I was just grateful to get the opportunity to practice it on a logistically challenging Thursday evening.

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Wednesday 5th October 2022

Pettistree.Last week I spoke of Wednesday evenings being a bit hectic, with at least time for one of us to get to some of Pettistree's weekly practice. This week, one extra engagement was enough to prevent us getting to the ground-floor six on this occasion. For once we returned from Alfie's football practice, we welcomed Ruthie's mother Kate to ours for a cuppa to mark the anniversary of when the latter was born, with the birthday girl fresh from the pre-practice quarter-peal at the aforementioned tower, appropriately of Bourne Surprise Minor.

Buxhall. Elveden.
Buxhall & Elveden

It wasn't the only QP rung in Suffolk today though, with a brace scored in the west of the county - a 1344 of Double Norwich Court Bob Major successful on the 15cwt gallery-ring eight of Buxhall and a 1280 of the 'standard' eight Surprise Major methods in the detached tower of Elveden.

A hectic Wednesday for them too!

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Tuesday 4th October 2022

North-West District members are hopefully aware of the outing on Saturday to Essex. There is an impressively comprehensive programme outlining postcodes and parking arrangements for each tower and distances between them, as well as tips for lunch. This should be a laid-back day out in lovely countryside not too far away, but it is also such an important aspect of learning to ring on unfamiliar bells, so please do support it and for further information contact NW Ringing Master Maureen Gardiner.

Ufford. I was ringing much closer to home this evening though, as Ufford Ringing Master and my mother-in-law Kate Eagle collected myself and Pete 'Mr Funny' Faircloth (we eagerly await which Mr Man t-shirt he turns up in next time!) for this week's practice on the 13cwt eight. It turned out to be a very productive session too. Daniel made a breakthrough with counting places, allowing some superb progression trebling to Plain Bob and Grandsire Doubles, as well as Plain Hunt on Seven, whilst Margaret made further progress on trebling to Cambridge Surprise Minor and inside to Grandsire Doubles and it was all topped off by a nicely rung course of Norwich Surprise Minor on the back six.

Hopefully there will be more of the same and more on the North-West District Outing on Saturday.

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Monday 3rd October 2022

For a second week running, we were short of a number of regulars at St Mary-le-Tower's weekly Monday practice. Illness, holidays, work and a lack of brakes contributed the absences, but we weren't as sparse in attendance as we were seven days ago and it is testament to the strength in depth we are blessed to have here that this was still an extremely productive session ranging from rounds and call-changes on twelve to Yorkshire Surprise Royal and Stedman Cinques.

Admittedly we were aided by the presence for the first time of Jenny & James Croft, but all being well this is planned to be a regular occurrence as they have recently moved to Suffolk from Derbyshire. They will be an extremely useful addition to the band if they do become regulars, with James having been in Sheffield's band in the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest eliminator at The Norman Tower earlier this year and he has regularly rung quarters and peals of Maximus, including many in hand, whilst Jenny has also rung to a standard on handbells that myself and others can only dream of and is good on higher numbers. They are also very sociable, joining us in the Halberd Inn afterwards!

They bring their handbell skills to a handbell scene in the county that is already thriving, as exhibited by another quarter-peal in hand in Bury St Edmunds, as a 1312 of Kent Treble Bob Major was rung.

If the normal order of things pans out, that performance should appear in The Ringing World in the coming weeks, but the latest edition arrived with us today, packed with reports of ringing for the passing of Elizabeth II, which of course includes several from within our borders, whilst Haverhill's ringing vicar Max Drinkwater writes the 'Thought for the Week' in this issue.

Otley.Meanwhile, the lives of Otley ringers Chris Barker and Jimmy Wightman who both died last month are due be celebrated with services of thanksgiving on Friday 7th and Wednesday 12th October respectively at the church where both were ringers and the latter Tower Captain for over half a century. Both services are planned to be at noon with an hour's ringing beforehand.

Closer to home for Ruthie and me but also mentioning in case anyone was thinking of an off the cuff visit to Woodbridge's practice on Tuesday 4th, is that it has been cancelled, although there is every intention of them resuming as normal from next week.

Something else readers may also like to be aware of if they're not already, is the Show and Tell Session being held for the Guild at the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre at St Peter's Mancroft in Norwich from 11.30am-1pm on Saturday 15th October. This is a superb facility on our doorstep and completely designed to help learners in an environment modelled around them. Unfortunately it slipped through a communication gap somewhere, so it is being advertised slightly later than it would've been wished, but if you can go along to watch, help or be helped, then please do. A number of learners are planning on going up, so you won't be alone!

St Mary-le-Tower were doing their bit to progress learners this evening, especially Judy and the Whittell's grandson Will at a really good practice night. Imagine how good it'll be once everyone is there?

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Sunday 2nd October 2022

St Mary-le-Tower. In a similar theme to yesterday, I didn't manage as much ringing as I would've wanted today. I was pleased to get to St Mary-le-Tower, accompany Owen Claxton up to the ringing chamber, call some call-changes on the twelve and ring some Grandsire of the Caters and Cinques varieties either side.

St Lawrence. Some then went onto St Lawrence, but whilst I heard them being rung up, I didn't make it up to the ancient 13cwt gallery-ring five as instead I went on to Costa Coffee for post-ringing refreshments, satisfied that they had enough to ring them all and I have to confess under a fair bit of pressure from the three boys!

Woodbridge.From there, we had promised to take Alfie and Joshua to Woodbridge's in Woodbridge for the Harvest service to deliver food and help plant trees and in theory we could've made it to ringing on the 25cwt eight, but of course theory doesn't usually count for much when dragging reluctant children around with you and so we parked up as the bells were being rung down and took our seats by the bottom of the stairs to the ringing chamber just before the ringers descended, some of them joining the congregation as usual.

From there our day was mainly based around a birthday party at St Audry's Sports and Social Club up the road from us that the two youngest sons had been invited to and involved an extremely entertaining entertainer called Magic Olly, but others in the county were ringing, with a quarter-peal of Plain & Single Oxford Bob Minor rung at Rougham in celebration of Maurice & Anita Rose's recent Golden Wedding Anniversary. They have both been extremely touched by the ringing done for their milestone, as well as the donations to charity on their behalf. Congratulations again to them both.

There was also Suffolk representation in the Cumberland Youths peal at Saxlingham Nethergate in Norfolk, with Norman Tower ringer Julian Colman ringing the seventh to a 5056 of Cambridge, Lincolnshire, Rutland & Yorkshire Surprise Major spliced conducted by former St Mary-le-Tower Ringing Master Simon Rudd.

Great to hear that they managed the ringing they wanted to.

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Saturday 1st October 2022

It was a very successful day from a football perspective, less so from a ringing one.

At the football this afternoon.Our footy experience saw Alfie get player of the match for his team, before we then made our way into Ipswich to watch the most exciting game we've seen at Portman Road for years, as the Tractor Boys beat Portsmouth 3-2 in a packed stadium in the company of my brother and Norman Tower ringer Chris.

Come the evening though, we weren't able to get to Brandeston for the South-East District Practice. It probably would've only been one of us anyway with it being a bit late on a dark autumnal night in the middle of the countryside for the boys to come along, but we were hosting Ruthie's best friend and one of our bridesmaids at our wedding a decade ago, Fergie so we couldn't attend regardless. She was on a visit to her hometown from her current town of residence Brighton and this evening was the only opportunity to meet in amongst her catching up with family too. Besides, by the time we were back from the Superblues' victory, we would've struggled to get out there and feed the family.

The Norman Tower. Unfortunately, we weren't the only ones whose ringing needs weren't entirely fulfilled today, as the first peal of St Edmund's Abbey Surprise Royal couldn't be attempted at The Norman Tower this morning due to some members of the band getting caught up in the gridlock caused by the closure of the A14 at Stowmarket. At least they were able to score a quarter-peal of it, before conductor Simon Rudd joined us at Portman Road, where the football was rather more successful.

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Friday 30th September 2022

September is a month of change in normal times. It arrives at the tail end of summer, holidays, hot temperatures and light evenings. It leaves with Halloween, the turning back of the clocks, falling leaves and cold weather on the horizon and indeed our Friday night virtual meet-up with Simon Rudd and friends (although Simon joined us late having been ringing at Swaffham) tonight was done to the backdrop of wind and constant, occasionally heavy rain.

Of course, this September has seen more change than most. Believe it or not, it began with a peal for the Platinum Jubilee, rung at Banbury in Oxfordshire on the 3rd. Little could they or us know, but five days later we would all be marking Queen Elizabeth's death and there would be a new King, whilst of course we have a new Prime Minister too. All along, ringing responded appropriately and magnificently.

Such a momentous month finished in quite a lowkey fashion. There were a couple of performances on BellBoard rung in memory of our late sovereign (both at Bottisham over the Cambridgeshire border), but mainly life seems to have gone back to the normal that we had on 1st September when Elizabeth II was still our monarch after seventy years and Boris Johnson was our PM. Nothing to report from Suffolk's bells or ringers and indeed from us today.

Tudenham St Martin.At least we met other ringers on the aforementioned video chat, where it was interesting to hear of a group of locals interested in learning to ring at the 7cwt six at Tuddenham St Martin just outside Ipswich, amongst much else.

God willing there will be progress on that as we move out of this month of change.

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Thursday 29th September 2022

After I had been out ringing for the last three evenings, I was ringing at home tonight whilst Ruthie went out singing. It was on Ringing Room of course and all on my own with Wheatley, starting with Lessness Surprise Major on a single 'bell' by the 'old-fashioned' way of pushing a button, eventually managing a course after my brother Chris returned my call and a brief interruption from Alfie. With the boys in bed, I then got my eBells out again and did some more Surprise Major, this time of the Yorkshire variety, firstly on 1-2 which went well and then on 7-8 which collapsed in the last lead when my brain metaphorically exploded and then after a couple of leads when my wife returned home. Generally, quite a satisfying little solo session.

Bardwell.Elsewhere in the county though, ringers were ringing on towerbells, most notably at Bardwell where a mainly Suffolk Cumberland Youths band rang a 5275 of Yorkshire Surprise Major to celebrate the 275th anniversary of the Society. And almost certainly rang it better than I did at home!

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Wednesday 28th September 2022

Wednesday evenings are a tad hectic for us these days. Straight from work we have to get Alfie to football training and with Ruthie working late, Joshua too. Once reunited with my wife, we have a limited window to grab our tea whilst getting the boys ready for bed, before one of us can get out to Pettistree's weekly practice. Of course, whichever one of us makes it arrives quite late to the session.

Tonight it was me, but I'd like to think I was useful, even in my short time there. As soon as I walked in, I was thrust behind John Horsnell who was making his initial inroads into Plain Hunt on Five. Like most learners, he was finding getting the right rhythm in his first change-ringing difficult, which was hindering him. However, after guiding him through a few courses, given him a demonstration of how to do it and then him having a go at it another two or three times before 9pm came round and he was making very definite progress, which is always nice to see.

Underlining the eclectic nature of ringing here, there was also Stedman Doubles and some courses of Cambridge and Carlisle Surprise Minor, before we finished with some spliced Doubles and Minor, which was fun, even when one of the ringers got confused between fifths and sixths place Grandsire Doubles...

Pettistree. Hopton.Beforehand, a quarter-peal of five Surprise Minor methods spliced was dedicated to the seventieth birthday of former Aldeburgh ringer Stephen Bedford, as was the peal of Bristol Surprise Major at Hopton, which additionally celebrated Alan Mayle's fifty years of membership of the Guild for which he was Peal Secretary for many years. Congratulations Alan.

And Happy Birthday Stephen, who sort of did a Suffolk-West Midlands switch with me when I returned here in 2005, but who I did much of my early peal ringing with in the 1990s, whilst he also very kindly rang in the peal at Hagley in Worcestershire in 2010 for the adding of mine and Chris' Great Grandfather to the village war memorial, even finding a couple of local ringers to ring. Along with his brother Vernon, their sister Ruth Young and their father Peter, he is a very good ringer from a ringing family highly thought of, especially in the North-East District.

Perhaps he had a drink to celebrate today, but there was nothing for those of us at Pettistree with The Greyhound still shut. Probably just as well on another hectic Wednesday evening though!

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Tuesday 27th September 2022

Brandeston.This Saturday is due to start what is planned to be a relatively busy October, as the South-East District intend to hold their practice at Brandeston between 7.30 and 9pm, a nice going light six that should be good for helping learners and allowing well struck advanced ringing and much in between, providing enough go. If you can, please do support it.

Likewise North-West District members for the following Saturday when the plan is for an outing just over the Essex border, a nice opportunity to travel around a very pleasant part of the world ringing on some nice bells. Personally, I think ringing on unfamiliar bells is such an important part of a learner's progress, but of course they will also need experienced ringers too, so again, if you can, please do go along.

Horringer. Barrow.
Horringer & Barrow

The same can be said for the Midweek Ringing slated for Tuesday 11th, albeit closer to home at Horringer and then after lunch, at Barrow. Contact my mother Sally for more details please.

Bringing it round full circle, the South-West District Practice is penciled in for Great Thurlow on Saturday 22nd and like the SE at Brandeston, it should be a great event for learners to learn, more experienced ringers to do something advanced and much in between, so long plenty of members support it. Again, if you can, please do.

Then as the month is due to come to a close, there is a significant ringing anniversary, as Wednesday the 26th marks precisely two hundred years since the first peal of Cambridge Surprise Royal, rung at All Saints in Wakefield. I imagine there are many attempts of peals in the method planned throughout the ringing world to celebrate the date and hopefully we in Suffolk can join for something that has been pealed eighty-three times by the Guild by my calculations, with the first rung at St Mary-le-Tower in 1925 and the most recent three years ago at The Norman Tower.

Ufford.Today though, the closest I got was ringing the Minor version of it at Ufford's practice, although at least I avoided breaking the clock hammer this time! All in all, it was another productive session, especially for Daniel Atkinson and Margaret Weeks, but personally it was nice to be helpful, even fitting in a visit from our non-ringing friend Matthew to ours before I went ringing and Ruthie watched Bake Off.

Ahead of another Tuesday practice in the county on the 8cwt ground-floor eight of Offton where Saturday's Guild Eight-Bell Striking Competition was held at the weekend, a 1260 of Single Oxford Bob Triples was rung.

For all the ringing that is intended within our borders for October, there is much still being done in September.

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Monday 26th September 2022

St Mary-le-Tower.A large number of the absences that initially put St Mary-le-Tower's ultimately successful entry into the Guild Eight-Bell Striking Competition over the weekend in doubt also meant we were very short this evening at our first Monday practice for three weeks due to the events of the last fortnight or so. Still, it was a productive session for George Heath-Collins who got lots of practice at bonging behind, Claire Haynes who trebled to Kent Treble Bob Major and Grandsire Caters and Sue Williamson who rang in some Stedman Caters that also doubled up as an exhibition for a family who came up to watch, having previously visited a few months ago. And the ringing was rounded off with a well-paced and nicely struck touch of Stedman Triples on the back eight.

Afterwards we retired to the Halberd Inn just as the England-Germany men's football match on the TV was getting exciting, with the Germans going 2-0 up just as we were ordering our drinks, the English going 3-2 up barely half a pint in and then the visitors equalising right at the end. No shortage of goals at Wembley, even if we were short on numbers at St Mary-le-Tower.

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Sunday 25th September 2022

There was no ringing at Woodbridge this morning, but for one reason or another we haven't been to church there for a couple of months or so. Therefore, Ruthie took up her place in the choir, the boys joined in with junior church and I sat and took in the service, without the ringing beforehand.

Later we returned home to watch Ipswich Town's first league defeat of the season on the TV, inviting Ruthie's sister Clare, her Town-supporting other half Chris & our nieces to join us, but after a couple of drinks to drown our sorrows there was no ringing for us after, which led to a rare Sunday without the exercise.

Pettistree. The Norman Tower. My wife and sister-in-law's mother Kate was busier in the art today though, ringing in the 1271 of Ipswich Surprise Minor at Pettistree for Evensong, whilst across in the west of the county, a quarter-peal of Cambridge Surprise Maximus was rung at The Norman Tower.

Good to see others in Suffolk ringing, even if we didn't manage any.

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Saturday 24th September 2022

There is a perception that St Mary-le-Tower always wins local striking competitions. It is broadly unfounded, but especially when it comes to the Guild Eight-Bell contest for the Rose Trophy. Over the last five competitions, it has been won by five different teams. From the last eleven contests it has been won twice by St Mary-le-Tower, whilst the North-East District have won it three times over that period. Indeed, the last time the team from Ipswich's civic church came out on top in this contest was in 2016 in Southwold. So they'd never won it in Joshua's lifetime.

Village sign. St Mary. Activities at the Guild Social in Offton churchyard. (taken by Mike Whitby) Activities at the Guild Social in Offton churchyard. (taken by Mike Whitby).

Therefore, it was actually a bit of a surprise for them to win this morning's 2022 competition at Offton, not least because when we arrived, they weren't even entering! Ringing Master David Potts had spent quite some time over the last couple of weeks trying to get a band together, but with a lot of people away, he'd had to admit defeat when he could only get five. However, when we arrived at the event, the draw having just been done, it became apparent that there were eight there who qualified to ring for us, ringing for other teams or involved in the running and organisation of the event, which was running alongside the SGR Social. Therefore, we put in a late entry to ensure a bumper six-team field, the best for some years.

In the churchyard at Offton for the Guild 8-Bell Striking Competition 2022. The running order for the Guild 8-Bell Striking Competition 2022. In the churchyard at Offton for the Guild 8-Bell Striking Competition 2022.  Activities in Offton churchyard for the Guild Social. Colin Salter received the Rose Trophy for the St Mary-le-Tower team.

Having rung for the South-East District and then at the end for St Mary-le-Tower, I nipped off to collect Alfie from his latest match for his under-nines team after I'd left him with his teammate and his family and even caught the last few minutes of a win and clean sheet, making for a very happy eight-year-old goalkeeper. I returned to Offton to find that the judges one-time Bramford ringer Christine Hill and NE District Ringing Master Philip Gorrod had announced that St Mary-le-Tower had been victorious, a surprise not just for the reasons above, but also because of the high standard of ringing. The South-West District can consider themselves unfortunate to come last, as the Grandsire Triples sounded lovely, whilst I felt the SE rang Yorkshire Surprise Major well and there were strong entries from the North-West District and The Norman Tower on a day that featured many with experience of the Ridgman Trophy and the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest just this year. Indeed, if you count the eliminators and the final of the latter as separate contests, this was mine and Ruthie's sixth striking competition of the last six months!

We were chuffed to win this one of course, but actually most of all, we were delighted to see so many present, even if it meant a little overlap of personnel ringing and to hear so much high-quality ringing, whether from the churchyard or in and outside the wonderful Offton and Willisham Village Hall across this isolated rural community on a beautiful sunny day in amongst the pretty rolling countryside of this part of the county. The Social meant there was plenty there for those not ringing for a team too, with games at the east end of the church, a competition to guess the results of the competition, walks and refreshments. It was all so pleasant and enjoyable - well done to the South-East District on being fantastic hosts, with Secretary Liz Christian guiding proceedings and Ringing Master Jenny Scase and her many helpers with food & drink, whilst Guild Ringing Master Katharine Salter made sure the competition ran smoothly. Thank you to them all for a great - if a little surprising - day!

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Friday 23rd September 2022

Guild PR Officer Neal Dodge recently revealed to me that there are an interesting couple of links between the county's bells and the start of Elizabeth II's seventy-year reign which has only just ended. Evelyn Reeve and John Girt both rang back in 1952 and 1953, whilst there are at least three bells within our borders cast for her coronation - the third at Buxhall and fourth & seventh at Woodbridge. Impressive then that we could bookend the longest reign of a monarch in the UK's history with lots of ringing for her passing and the accession of her son to the throne, and hopefully some of that will get imparted in the planned souvenir issue of The Ringing World, which if you do want to get something in needs to be sent to editor Will Bosworth on by this Tuesday.

There was Suffolk content in this week's edition which arrived with us this morning on behalf of the Pettistree band, in particular the superb interview between Norman Tower ringer Tim Hart and his handbell 'mentor' and former St Mary-le-Tower Ringing Master Simon Rudd about the former's astonishing progress in hand from a complete novice to ringing his first peal in the medium of twenty-seven Surprise Major methods in Bury St Edmunds last month.

Typically on a Friday evening we'd join Simon at his virtual pub, but we were otherwise engaged watching England's men playing in Italy on the TV and sadly not reaching anywhere near the levels of the women's team a few weeks ago on a busy night of TV for us, but not ringing.

Tostock.Unlike elsewhere, with the quarter-peal of Quantock Treble Bob Minor at Tostock a first in the method for the entire band. Well done all!

I wonder what folk will make of that by the end of Charles III's reign?

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Thursday 22nd September 2022

I became a tourist in my lunchbreak today. Sort of. For having taken a walk up towards Sutton Hoo a few months ago and fallen short in reaching the attraction, I decided to try and actually get up there, which I managed this afternoon, as I made it to the visitor centre car park and could probably even have managed time to stare through the windows at Edith Pretty's famous house. There wasn't time to make paying for a ticket worthwhile before I needed to head back though, but I was chuffed to make it that far in pleasant conditions with a jumper still unneeded. Indeed, bar standing in the biting artic wind on Saturday morning watching Alfie playing football and on the odd late night on the campsite during the Rambling Ringers Tour, there hasn't been a need for me to wear additional layers beyond short sleeves, indoors, outdoors or whilst ringing for the last two or three months.

Me trying my eBells out.Not that I was in any ringing chambers today, but I did do some ringing, as I returned to my eBells after a few weeks and it was a pleasant surprise how much now seems perfectly natural. Plain Bob Minor on 5-6 was rung with no problems, Cambridge Surprise Minor on 5-6 was a little hesitant but still relatively accomplished and whilst I had to start Yorkshire Surprise Major again and it was far from cleanly rung, I even managed this generally knowing what was going on! And all done with less effort than it took me to be a lunchtime tourist.

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Wednesday 21st September 2022

Although I discovered today that my work colleague had been the very last person to get a wristband for the queue to see the Queen lying in state on Sunday night and was thus splashed across the media, life has generally got back to normal, almost as if nothing had happened. Indeed, in sharp contrast to the slow, ponderous nature of the muffled ringing most of us did over the ten days of mourning, this evening's pre-practice quarter-peal at Pettistree was apparently a very brisk affair, much more so than intended, after a false start!

Otley.The 1260 of four Doubles methods was dedicated to the memory of Jimmy Wightman, who I was very sorry to hear has passed away. He was a proper old Suffolk boy, another fixture in my ringing youth, creating a double act with another, Geoff Pulford, at South-East District & Guild events. Many a happy conversation was had with them about Ipswich Town to a backdrop of sweeping countryside and wide East Anglian skies or with a cuppa and slice of cake in hand at some tea or other. George Pipe was always very grateful for Jimmy's help in getting the St Mary-le-Tower band up and running when George & Di returned from living in Australia to find the band at rock bottom, whilst I remember fondly how chuffed he was when Otley won the Lester Brett Trophy at the SGR Striking Competitions at Blythburgh a decade ago. And it was lovely to see him back out and about again following his horrifying accident in 2015, although we sadly didn't see him so much after that, understandably so as he recovered. He will be much missed.

Bures. Stoke by Nayland. Some of those who were ringing in the QP were quite tired afterwards, especially as they had also rung in the quarters of Plain Bob Major at Bures and Grandsire Triples at Stoke by Nayland, with a couple having also got caught up in the gridlock following the closure of the A14 just outside Ipswich for a tragic crash. However, despite flagging minds and limbs, there was still an eclectic but productive session on the ground-floor six, which I joined after taking Alfie to football training. From call-changes to Plain Hunt on five for John Horsnell and Grandsire Doubles for Sam Shannon to treble to, to pieces of Cambridge, Chester & Norwich Surprise Minor and a touch of various Surprise Minor methods spliced called by Mark Ogden and a superb lower, it was a super way to spend an hour on a Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, I had a read of CCCBR President Simon Linford's now tri-weekly blog, which features a link to a video for promoting ringing to the Scouts & Guides. Well worth a watch and if you are involved in either organisation, well worth using.

I was able to watch that on an evening where I had extra time with still no drink in The Greyhound after ringing, as we continue to await its reopening, but apparently it is due to be happening soon. Not soon enough to consider queueing for it though.

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Tuesday 20th September 2022

Flags were being raised on flagpoles and muffles taken off bells up and down the country and already focus has begun shifting to King Charles III's coronation. There is no date set for that, but mention in ringing circles has been made of using it as a focus for a recruitment campaign the along the lines of Ringing Remembers four years ago. There has been no mention made of any such initiative by the CCCBR, but there is nothing stopping towers and organisations going ahead anyway, as it is an idea with merit and precedence. For example, the band learning at Bramford was created with the aim of ringing for the Platinum Jubilee and continues to thrive, including ringing to mark Queen Elizabeth II's death.

There was still some ringing dedicated to Her Late Majesty, including here in Suffolk as Ruthie joined her mother Kate at Ufford for a quarter-peal of Plain Bob Doubles rung open in celebration of her life, as videos and photos of the ringing and bands doing it in recent days were being shared via social media. Jonathan Williamson has been superb in sharing the variations available to us at St Mary-le-Tower being rung fully muffled, the latest of which is a touch of Grandsire Triples on the back eight and half course of Cambridge Surprise Royal on the ten from last night, which in turn follow clips of the front eight and all twelve from Sunday morning, as well as the video my wife shot from the same morning of the twelve from outside. This is a sound almost no one would have ever heard before and God willing it'll be at least twenty years or so before it might be heard again, so it has been brilliant that so much ringing has been captured for posterity, as well as those who were ringing them at this most unique of times.

Elveden.Meanwhile, whilst happily ringing it for a birth rather than the death of our former sovereign, a peal of 'Horton's Four' - Belfast, Bristol, Glasgow & London Surprise Major spliced - was rung on the 17cwt eight at Elveden. With flag raised and muffles off.

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Monday 19th September 2022

If I'm perfectly honest, at many points, the last ten days have been quite tiresome for those of us generally ambivalent towards the Royal Family, even me who considers myself more supportive of them than not. The wall-to-wall coverage, even when nothing new is happening, postponed football matches when people had already booked travel and accommodation and the OTT reaction in many areas, best exhibited by Center Parcs insisting on turfing paying guests out for the funeral before they had to do a U-turn when the absurdity of it all became clear even to them, has all produced much eye-rolling. Lots of well-meaning gestures, but it was hard to believe that much of it was what Her Late Majesty would've wanted.

However, her passing, even at ninety-six was a moment of great gravity and for millions great sadness too. It was right that it was marked. My late aunt worked for her and recounted tales of how genuinely thoughtful, kind and humorous she was, who had barely put a foot wrong in her role and was the only monarch the vast majority of us had ever known. Even if you weren't a fan, this was history. Apart from listening to commentary of Ipswich Town's fixtures, we've avoided any radio, but understood the glum note they had to strike and the constant stories and memories listeners had of the Queen. And whilst we simply don't feel strongly enough about it all to have travelled down to London, we could appreciate why some - including a number of ringers - felt compelled to wait overnight by the procession routes and/or queue for hours to see her lying in state and it was quite an incredible sight.

Therefore, we were glued to today's funeral, from her coffin leaving Westminster Hall to it being lowered beneath St George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle. At the end of the day, this was a grieving family saying farewell to a mother, granny and great granny and it was lovely to have an opportunity to watch it together as a family ourselves. However, I can't deny that I was also fascinated by the sheer scale of it all, the pomp and the pageantry and it seems we're unlikely to ever see anything of this size again in our lifetimes.

I also loved how bells played such a big part in it all. A bell was tolled in Westminster every minute in the hour before the 11am service, as was Big Ben afterwards, and as Queen Elizabeth II left the capital for the last time, a quarter-peal at the Abbey was starting up and sounding quite magnificent. When she arrived on the outskirts of Windsor to slowly process into the Castle grounds, a bell from the Curfew Tower and The Sebastopol Bell (which is only ever rung for royal deaths) were tolled.

Indeed, ringers across the country and the world were tolling and ringing. Here in Suffolk there was again too much on BellBoard to list here, with lots of photographic and video records, but well done to Matt Newson on ringing his first quarter-peal on eight in the 1302 of Plain Bob Triples at Debenham, ringing the crucial tenor bell effectively tolling with its open stroke to boot. There were more QPs across the county, two of them in Bury St Edmunds with one on handbells after the funeral and another at The Norman Tower before it, whilst there were 1260s of Grandsire Doubles and five Doubles methods rung at Rougham and Woolpit respectively.

Meanwhile, I went to St Mary-le-Tower where there was no practice, but some general ringing on the completely muffled bells before we then rang a very well rung 1320 of Grandsire Cinques, before retiring to The Halberd Inn.

That was our final act of remembrance to Queen Elizabeth II on these bells. Over this period of mourning, it has been important that bells have shown their respect, with Her Majesty having been the Head of the Church of England whose churches are where the overwhelming majority of our ringing is done, but it hasn't been easy. Not everywhere has enough muffles to fully muffle all their bells, there was a busy couple of days last weekend in many places of putting muffles on, taking them off for King Charles III's proclamation and then putting them back on straight away, difficult decisions and discussions for those due to ring for weddings unfortunate enough to fall over the last week and a bit and no small confusion over timings, whilst there has been lots of events cancelled or postponed. The exercise has done superbly though in my mind, especially within our borders.

It is one aspect of the last ten days that definitely hasn't been tiresome.

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Sunday 18th September 2022

It is for a sad reason, but tomorrow's Bank Holiday Monday for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II offers us an unexpected lay-in, with schools and our places of work closed and so we took advantage by inviting Ufford ringers Susanne Eddis & Pete Faircloth round for a few drinks and nibbles, them fresh from a quarter-peal of Plain Bob Doubles on the back six at Aldeburgh.

That 1260 was one of four QPs rung today in Suffolk, with a 1296 of Norwich Surprise Minor at Pettistree, whilst the 1360 of St Edmund's Abbey Surprise Royal at The Norman Tower was a first in the method and the 1344 of St Martin's Bob Triples rung at Buxhall was a debut in the line for Guild PR Officer Neal Dodge and service ringing at Stradishall and Woodbridge was also noted on BellBoard. Well done to the band in Bury St Edmunds and Neal!

We did some ringing of our own today too though, as both Ruthie and I - accompanied by the boys - rang on the fully muffled twelve of St Mary-le-Tower this morning, before we retired to Costa Coffee for the usual post-ringing refreshment, where amongst conversation about lifting cows from ditches and Mexican Wave ringing, arrangements were shored up for our planned contribution to that aforementioned Bank Holiday Monday.

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Saturday 17th September 2022

A week later than intended, Alfie finally played his first proper. 'competitive' match for a team as he and his chums in their under-nine's team travelled away for a cup game. He was in goal after some truly extraordinary performances between the sticks in training, but sadly couldn't do anything about their 4-1 defeat, with two massive deflections and his shortness going against him for three of their goals. Importantly though, he and his teammates were smiling, chuffed to be playing.

We were delighted to be there for him and it is important to us that we watch him as much as possible, but I don't mind admitting that the freezing wind reminded me why I enjoy ringing indoors, with even the coldest ringing chambers not a patch on the bracing, artic feeling wind that made watching on the sidelines a decidedly uncomfortable experience this morning! Additionally, the £130 membership fee for the season which funds the club for kits, balls and other equipment makes outs ringing subscriptions in the shade!

Offton.However, it does complicate our Saturdays from a ringing perspective, including in a week's time when Guild Eight-Bell Striking Competition is due to be held. Last year's contest at Horringer was a big success in its new September slot, with five teams competing in total from both sides of the county. Hopefully the central location of this year's planned venue of Offton will encourage entries from all over Suffolk, as I hope the easy-going nature of this ground-floor ring also does. Please do all you can to get a team entered from your District or tower and let's make this another celebration of eight-bell ringing within our borders!

As with 2021's competition, it is being held alongside the SGR Social, further details of which have been revealed. From when the draw is slated to take place at 10am to the occasion's intended finish of 2pm, there are walks to be had in beautiful countryside, a treasure hunt, challenges, an opportunity to predict the striking competition results, food and refreshments, all in earshot of the bells ringing. Very laid back, very informal, a great chance to socialise and relax.

Football or no football, we had no ringing lined up today, but of course there was plenty of ringing going on, both here in Suffolk and beyond, all of course in memory of Queen Elizabeth II on Day Eight of the ten days of national mourning for her passing. Internationally, peals were rung in Australia and the USA and quarter-peals were rung in Australia,  in France and the Netherlands. Nationally, there were headline acts at St Thomas the Martyr in Oxford where a peal of fifteen Royal methods - eleven of which were being rung for the first time - was rung as part of the College Youths Peal Weekend, and in Tulloch where the Cumberland Youths were ringing a 5016 of ten Maximus methods with a band featuring former Exning ringer Jimmy Yeoman. Indeed, the county's peal ringers past and present were doing much beyond our borders today. Closest to home was Clare ringer Alan Mayle and St Mary-le-Tower band member Ian Culham who rang at Kelvedon south of the River Stour, the former's 600th peal for the Essex Association. Congratulations Alan! Further afield, Barrie Hendry & Louis Suggett were in the 5152 of Turramurra Surprise Major at Bradford Peverell in Dorset (the latter conducting it), Philip Moyse & George Salter rang in the 5040 of Grandsire Triples at Ebbw Vale in Wales and one-time regular visitor to Grundisburgh Peter Emery was ringing in the first peal at St Barnabus in Pimlico for 120 years.

Within our borders though, it was also busy, with three quarters rung, with Cambridge Surprise Minor rung at Bacton, Bourne Surprise Minor at Redgrave and Doubles at Wattisfield, whilst there was also general ringing at Thelnetham and Thrandeston.

For us though, the closest we got to the exercise was reading a perfectly pitched edition of The Ringing World and I enjoyed taking a peek at photos from last Saturday's Cumberlands Dinner in the capital and which featured many faces familiar to me and I expect lots of others reading this.

Meanwhile, Ruthie enjoyed a night out of curry and booze with her workmates, whilst the boys and I had a lads night in. It was generally an enjoyable day for all our household, but especially for Alfie.

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Friday 16th September 2022

If you would like something to chuckle about in these understandably somber days, the article from the Suffolk Gazette that I was sent today should help. In keeping with the nature of this website where the stories are spoofs and written with comedy in mind, it is entirely fictional (as far as I'm aware!), but it did take my mind back to a quarter-peal Ruthie and I rang at Kettleburgh in 2013.

Mourning for Queen Elizabeth II's death over a week ago continues though, with incredible queues in London to see her lying in state at Westminster Hall that included David Beckham and the premier of Canada's Alberta's province and as the day drew to a close, it was expected that those joining would take nineteen hours to reach the front several miles away.

For now though, ringing for this historic period has settled down quite a bit, certainly within our borders where there was nothing noted on BellBoard for the first time since the old monarch's sad passing eight days ago. Indeed, since the start of last week.

That included us, not atypically for a Friday. Also, not atypically for a Friday, we joined Simon Rudd and friends for his virtual pub, where those who attended last Saturday's Cumberland Youth's Dinner recounted an apparently lovely evening and our Norfolk compatriots were anticipating what they hope to be an enjoyable day ringing bells in the west of Suffolk tomorrow. Residents of places like Lavenham, Cavendish & Bury St Edmunds, listen out!

Hopefully they'll have a few chuckles, but also produce some nice ringing on the county's muffled bells in these somber times.

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Thursday 15th September 2022

Offton.Congratulations to Brian Whiting, who today rang his 1000th peal for the Suffolk Guild, an organisation he has served and supported with such distinction. He is currently the SGR's Handbells Trustee & Mini-Ring Trustee and was its Chairman from 1998 to 2003, whilst also being Ringing Master at Offton for many years, in the process being a big part of mine and my brother Chris' early Suprise Major ringing through the practices and weekly quarter-peals beforehand. He has helped so many in their peal-ringing, myself and Ruthie included, with both of us having rung over a hundred peals each with him. He is a reassuring presence in a pealband, hence why it is unsurprising to see him reach another big peal-ringing landmark.

The reason for the 5096 of Grandsire & Gainsborough Little Bob Caters spliced at Grundisburgh wasn't for BEW's achievement however and although it was rung to an appropriate length for the 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth II and half-muffled, it wasn't actually arranged initially for Her Majesty's death a week ago either. Rather, originally it had been organised for former Guild Treasurer and local ringer Chris Barker, who also died last week. I'm pleased that for all that events of the last seven days have rather overshadowed his passing more widely, he was still remembered in this 3hr 5min.

Later, the practice night at the same tower was dedicated to the memory of the late monarch, whilst Ruthie and I were at St Mary-le-Tower to ring for a special service for her. These are the first fully muffled bells we have rung on this week and indeed ever. Once you get used to them, it is actually a less disconcerting experience than half-muffled ringing, where you have to constantly adjust your ears every stroke, but it is a strange sensation nonetheless. It sounds a little like one is ringing under water and unusually for ringing on this 34cwt twelve, the rope rattle is clearly audible, as is every whisper and the bagpipes that started up just as we got going with a well rung half-course of Yorkshire Surprise Royal, which had followed on from some Grandsire Cinques and Little Bob Maximus. Overall, a very good job was made in unusual circumstances - by both us and the bagpiper!

Meanwhile at Ixworth, a 1344 of St Martin's Bob Triples was rung with the eight fully muffled bar the tenor's backstroke, as has become a familiar sound in recent days.

Congratulations to Suffolk's ringers on another day's ringing for the Queen, but especially to Brian Whiting on his impressive landmark.

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Wednesday 14th September 2022

The Barn Owl Ring.There is a new ringing venue in Suffolk, although the bells there will be familiar to many as a quarter-peal was today rung on the private ring of eight previously hung as The Millbeck Ring in Shelland and at The Folly in Claydon in their new guise as The Barn Owl Ring in Norton, now under the stewardship of Andrew Stone.

It wasn't the only QP within our borders today, with a 1260 of Plain Bob Triples rung half-muffled at Bardwell, the half-muffled pre-practice quarter at Pettistree and the lunchtime ringing on the fully-muffled ancient five of St Lawrence (which have seen more changes of monarch than most rings) is also noted on BellBoard.

Ringers at Pettistree. © Mike WhitbyHaving taken Alfie to football training, I eventually made it to the weekly session of the middle tower, where the bar for standards was set even higher than usual due to the sensitive nature of ringing during this national period of mourning. It speaks volumes of the quality of ringing here that nothing needed to be set up prematurely that I heard, with Stedman Doubles and Cambridge Surprise Minor amongst the repertoire. Nice as well to have my Mum Sally there, with no ringing at Sproughton tonight, and to have a group photo to record who was present ringing the bells during this historic period.

Meanwhile, on the Bellringers Facebook page, Past Secretary of the Guild, Reverend Carl Melville shared a video of some half-muffled ringing at Wickham Skeith, one of Suffolk's more established ringing venues.

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Tuesday 13th September 2022

Ringing at Kersey. Ringing at Kersey. Flag at half mast outside Kersey church

Following yesterday's day off, today was another taken for a sports day that didn't happen. Whilst Ruthie returned to work though, I decided to join the Midweek Ringing organised by my mother Sally and which now happens on the second Tuesday of every month. Of course, the events of Thursday and the subsequent period of mourning initially put it in doubt, but with the bells of Kersey & Polstead half-muffled and respective correspondents Neville Whittell and Sue Freeman not only happy for them to be rung, but to meet us and in Neville's case ring with us, a decent number of ringers from across Suffolk descended before lunch upon the 14cwt eight that ring out over the famously picturesque village below. Numbers allowed for plenty of ringing from call-changes to Plain Bob Major and Triples of the Grandsire and Stedman varieties, before we had to finish a few minutes earlier than billed as someone unexpectedly turned up to do something on the roof.

Dinner was at The Brewers Arms between the two towers, where my mother very kindly bought me lunch with one ringer who had booked a meal not turning up and so I appreciated a lovely carvery at a venue where they were extremely hospitable. Very much to be recommended!

Polstead. Polstead. Polstead.

Appetites satisfied, we went on to the 9cwt six that in my opinion are easy to produce good ringing on, hence the high standard of ringing when the Guild Six-Bell Striking Competitions were held here three years ago (reminder that this year's Guild Eight-Bell is due to take place at Offton in eleven days!). Needing to be back to pick the boys up from school, there was only time for me to call a well-rung course of Cambridge Surprise Minor before I left, but I enjoyed it very much, as I did the trip out to this beautiful part of the world generally. If you are available on Tuesday 11th October when the plan is to go to Horringer & Barrow then please do go along. Personally, I think that it is superb that ringing offers us the opportunity on a mundane working day to pop out to the wonderful places we are blessed to have on our doorstep and share in the fellowship of the exercise.

On the day that the body of Queen Elizabeth II was flown down to London and taken to Buckingham Palace one last time, ringing continued to mark her passing, including here in the county with a quarter-peal of Single Oxford Bob Triples rung at Offton, with the bells all fully muffled, but with the tenor open at backstroke. That sound has been a moving one over the last few days, but not everywhere has enough muffles to fully muffle the bells, as is the case at Kersey and Polstead. Nonetheless, they still produce a lovely sound and I was delighted to be able to ring them on another day off.

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Monday 12th September 2022

It is difficult to avoid the death of Queen Elizabeth II and accession of Charles III, some might say necessarily so. We've tried. Although it is quite rightly so, listening to the radio in recent days has been extremely downbeat and frankly a little dreary, especially for the boys and so we've taken to ignoring it and listening to songs from YouTube at home and CDs in the car. The latest edition of The Ringing World arrived this morning, understandably quite late due to postal strikes (although in line with all the other many strikes currently going on, those were suspended out of respect following Her Majesty's passing) and of course having been published just before the events of Thursday it was completely oblivious to what was about to unfold.

However, even in the process of doing the weekly shop at Tesco we were met by the big screens in the aisles sending their condolences to the Royal Family and when we went to Ufford to allow BAC Secretary & South-East District Technical Adviser Chris McArthur to check that the tenor is now safe to ring following repairs to the clock hammer, we felt we ought to put a muffle on it before ringing it up.

The bells at Ufford. The bells at Ufford.
The bells at Ufford

More widely, what ringing is and has been doing since the 8th September and indeed hasn't been doing makes it impossible for us ringers to ignore the historic times we're currently living through. Today, a peal was rung for our new monarch, as a 5040 of Plain Bob Major was rung on handbells in Moats Tye, but there was also cancellation of regular ringing, as was the case at St Mary-le-Tower this evening, at the request of the vicar the Reverend Tom Mumford. His decision was understandable, both from a public perception perspective and from our perspective, with a question mark over the effectiveness of a twelve-bell session with fully muffled bells and ringers being pulled from pillar to post at the moment.

However, it meant a night in, but at least the rest of our day was more productive. I had booked today and tomorrow off to watch Alfie & Joshua's sports days which had been postponed from the extremely hot weather at the end of last term but were then cancelled altogether last week due to the ground being too hard. Nonetheless, with Ruthie also off today, I decided to use the annual leave to get as much done with my wife as we could without the children around. Although it got a little taken over by our duties at Ufford, with a trip over to Hollesley to collect the keys from the Harpers necessary as well as letting Chris in after he had very kindly taken the time out to reassure the PCC, we still got that shopping done, sorted some bits and pieces around the house and took the boys to and from school.

And we also dipped into proceedings nationally as the late Queen laid at rest in St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh. After all, this is still an historic event, a fascinating and rare occasion. Even if it is nice to escape it from time to time!

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Sunday 11th September 2022

It was a late night yesterday for the boys, so we afforded them a lay in this morning, which of course meant a lay in for us and therefore meant that we missed going to St Mary-the-Virgin's in Woodbridge for ringing and the service.

Of course, on this weekend more than any other, there was plenty of ringing available later in the day. As with the rest of the country, there was much ringing going on in Suffolk in relation to the shifting sands of history, particularly the proclamation of Charles III as King, which reached the 'provinces'. In Ipswich that was at 1pm and as part of proceedings the bells were to ring out openly. Not as straightforward as would usually be the case, as the bells which had been fully muffled for this morning's ringing needed to be unmuffled for our ringing this afternoon and then muffled again for the eight days ahead until the day of the funeral on Monday 19th September.

Understandably, it was decided to limit ringing on this occasion on the front eight to avoid taking the muffles on and off the back four and so once our learner George had communicated the moment to ring, we broke out into some Stedman Triples, Grandsire Triples, Rounds & Call Changes on Eight for George himself and then half a course of Yorkshire Surprise Major before ringing the bells down to re-muffle them. At this point it is worth highlighting the tremendous efforts of Guild Treasurer Stephen Cheek, SGR Ringing Master Katharine Salter and Ipswich Area Rep Jonathan Williamson, who have done huge amounts of running up and down stairs and fiddling about under bells getting muffles on, whilst St Mary-le-Tower Ringing Master David Potts also helped getting muffles back on the bells after ringing this afternoon.

The proclamation of King Charles III on the Market Hill in Woodbridge. The proclamation of King Charles III on the Market Hill in Woodbridge.
The proclamation of King Charles III on the Market Hill in Woodbridge

We meanwhile were getting a patient Alfie and Joshua back to Woodbridge to witness the proclamation taking place at 3.30pm on the Market Hill in Woodbridge beneath the tower holding the 25cwt eight, where we were also met by Mason and Ruthie's sister Clare and her other half Chris. Obviously, these days this is something entirely unnecessary with modern communications, but hundreds of others were present, probably for the same reasons as us - a mixture of curiosity and a sense of seeing history unfold, especially for the boys.

Afterwards, we continued on with Clare and Chris to visit their new abode for the first time, but elsewhere our ringing in the county town wasn't the only within our borders - as is outlined in a super article on the East Anglian Daily Times website featuring Guild PR Officer Neal Dodge - noted on BellBoard, as you would expect at the moment. Indeed, again there are just far too many to list individually, but there was a peal of Doubles on the back six at Aldeburgh and quarter-peals at Barrow, Blythburgh and Ixworth, with band photos and videos providing a wonderful pictorial and audio record of an historic time that God willing we can look back on in years to come. On that note, there is video of some of the peal of Stedman Cinques at St Magnus-the-Martyr in London today with former Bardwell and St Mary-le-Tower ringer Louis Suggett taking on the pressure role of the tenor!

Hopefully it wasn't too late a night for him by the time he got back to his current residence in Bournemouth.

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Saturday 10th September 2022

Much to the disgruntlement of most football fans who spent the afternoon resenting the Queen's passing rather than marking it respectfully in stadiums up and down the land (the spontaneous singing of the National Anthem by West Ham United fans ahead of their match on Thursday evening was moving, and it would've been superb to see similar displays multiplied throughout the country this weekend), there was no footy today as every fixture this weekend has been postponed. That included Ipswich Town's match with Cambridge United this afternoon and even Alfie's first ever competitive match for his under-9's team.

We at least managed to compensate Alfred for the disappointment of the former with a hastily arranged informal kick about in Melton Park, whilst we weren't actually going to the latter anyway as we had already planned to be in Birmingham. This was for a gathering with my uni mates, most of whom still live in the West Midlands, as we met at the home of my friend 'Wellz', his wife Katie and their children for a 'Cook-Off', an annual event that was the first we have been able to attend. As the name suggests, this was a friendly cooking competition between households present and although we came bottom with a stew we cooked at home last night and took with us, the boys enjoyed making friends with the other children there and we enjoyed catching up with friends only seen on video chats in recent years.

Of course, elsewhere history continued moving apace, as Charles III was proclaimed king at St James's Palace and bells again reacted both to that and the passing of his mother, with it also announced today that the funeral of Elizabeth II is due to take place on Monday 19th September. In Suffolk, the bells of Bildeston, Bungay, Buxhall, Felixstowe, Hollesley, Lavenham, Woolpit rang open for the proclamation, whilst Cavendish tolled for the late Queen.

It has been wonderful to see ringing paying its respects, even if football hasn't been allowed to.

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Friday 9th September 2022

Understandably, the death yesterday of Queen Elizabeth II was the main topic on people's minds, as we shall have to get used to for quite a while yet, with today just Day 0 of ten days of mourning. It still feels incredibly strange to think that the monarch for my whole entire life until twenty-four hours ago is no longer here and even after hearing King Charles III make his first speech as our Head of State, hearing 'God Save The King' being sung is taking a bit of getting used to. This is something that the vast majority of us haven't had to contend with, but thus far I think ringing has reacted superbly. Although guidelines on 'Operation London Bridge' have been shared from the CCCBR, local circumstances and reasonable confusion over exactly what stage of the period of mourning we're at have dominated the ringing WhatsApp groups we're a part of. Nonetheless, the exercise has responded in phenomenal numbers today, not least here in Suffolk.

As I write this, there are forty-one performances in the county noted on the black bordered BellBoard, to add to the tolling at Aldeburgh and Eye yesterday. Most of today's was also tolling, but there was general ringing - all done half-muffled, or fully-muffled with one of the tenor strokes open - done at Bildeston, Bramford, Buxhall, Clare, Falkenham, Felixstowe, Oakley, Offton, Rushmere St Andrew, Wickham Market and Woolpit, whilst quarter-peals of Grandsire Doubles, Grandsire Caters and Newdigate Delight Minor were rung at Aldeburgh, The Norman Tower and Buxhall respectively. Well done to the entire band in the latter on ringing their first in the method and to all who enabled bells to be sounded on an occasion where they were considered an official part of protocol for this historic event.

Bruce Wakefield tolling the tenor at Woodbridge. Taken by Mike Whitby.However, there will also be cancelled ringing in the coming days. Although the tenors at St Mary-le-Tower and Woodbridge were both tolled today, both towers' practices have been called off next week, so if you are planning on joining any ringing between now and the funeral of Her Majesty (the date of which hasn't been confirmed yet). it will be best to check before going along.

The general effort amongst the art today was all the more impressive for being mainly done at noon for an hour on a workday. Neither Ruthie or I were able to participate for that very reason, but it was wonderful to hear the tolling at Melton from the offices of John Catt Educational, something which was noticed and commented on by my work colleagues.

Unsurprisingly, the events of the last couple of days and indeed a week where we have also seen a new Prime Minister in an unprecedented (or at least surely extremely rare) week in British history, were the subject of conversation at Simon Rudd's weekly virtual pub, but it also shifted onto last weekend's Central Council AGM (which Cathy Colman attended) and Ringing Roadshow (which Gareth Davies who was also with us this evening, spoke at), whilst we were able to watch Simon himself as we were online with him, as he and other ringers appeared 10mins25secs into BBC Look East's evening news, after they had been filming today's ringing at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich.
Nothing was too far away from the main news story of the moment.

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Thursday 8th September 2022

We began an extraordinarily historic day with Queen Elizabeth II, the longest serving monarch in the world. We ended it with King Charles III, the newest one on the planet, albeit the oldest ever to come to the throne in this country at the age of seventy-three.

With Her Majesty being ninety-six and clearly becoming increasingly frail, it was a day everyone surely expected in the near future, and as soon as a lunchtime statement was released by her doctors and it was announced that close family were heading to Balmoral immediately, there seemed an inevitability that the worst was going to happen shortly. Yet it didn't diminish the shock and disorientation of the death of someone who had been on the throne for all the lives of the majority of people alive today, a constant in life, regardless of your thoughts on her. I find it staggering that youngsters today who will be taking the world into the 22nd Century will have lived their first few years under a Queen whose first Prime Minister was Winston Churchill. A reign that began without even her knowing and announced in snapshots of black & white newsreels and straightlaced newspapers in a delayed process, ended in the glare of 24/7 news coverage, social media and via mobile phones hours after her passing.

'Operation London Bridge' was being quoted throughout the world of ringing, the protocol shared on the CCCBR's website for the use of bells in the coming days that broadly speaking encourages tolling or fully muffled ringing at noon tomorrow, and then fully muffled ringing with the tenor backstroke open until Charles is proclaimed monarch and then fully muffled again until the funeral. With the 6.30pm announcement too late to put muffles on in time for most weekly practices this evening, it meant many were cancelled, whilst those who are due to ring for weddings on Saturday were debating whether they should ring open, muffled or not at all.

Coincidentally, her death came precisely two years after my father Alan's, as the 8th September became significant to the rest of the nation for the same reason as it has been for us since 2020. I can imagine he would've been glued to the news channels following it all on an extraordinarily historic day.

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Wednesday 7th September 2022

Monewden.Sad news today as we learnt that Otley ringer Chris Barker has died. He was a former Treasurer of the Suffolk Guild and rang four peals, all at Monewden, the last of which was in 2004, which Ruthie rang in and is also interesting for the fact that precisely a decade before becoming a mother to Alfie, my now wife was circling the 5cwt gallery-ring six and along with her mother was completing the Grandsire family to peals from Doubles to Cinques! He was another of those reassuringly familiar characters of my ringing youth, an interesting person to speak with and although I haven't seen him for several years, he will be much missed by the SGR ringing community. Our thoughts are with his wife Audrey and their family.

BellBoard records that his first quarter-peal was on 7th August 1988 at Burgh, conducted by then Guild Ringing Master Stephen Pettman and unusually Mr P was conducting another QP today, as he called Helen Ellerby's first for fifty years in the 1260 of Doubles at Grundisburgh. Helen has been a welcome and useful addition to the band at the county's lightest twelve since she moved to the area and returned to the exercise, so I'm delighted she has achieved this.

It wasn't the only achievement in the medium within our borders today either. Well done to Norman Tower ringer Ben Keating on ringing his first of Superlative in the 1280 of the Surprise Major variety at Horringer, whilst there was also an impressive 1312 of four Surprise Major methods spliced at Hitcham on a busy day of ringing in the county.

We didn't manage any ringing though, as a combination of Ruthie's work, Alfie's football training and our delayed tea meant that there wasn't much of Pettistree's practice left and with The Greyhound still closed and no post-ringing drink to extend the evening it wasn't really worthwhile travelling out for. However, I was pleased to see the pre-practice quarter dedicated to Chris Barker.

RIP Chris.

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Tuesday 6th September 2022

Ufford.Whilst Liz Truss dodged the rain in order to make her first speech outside No.10 Downing Street as Prime Minister and set about a long list of jobs, the ringers at Offton were doing the same to get to the 8cwt ground-floor eight for the pre-practice quarter-peal of Lincolnshire Surprise Major and I was dashing between door and car and vice versa in the showers to get to Ufford's weekly practice (although it is worth noting there isn't one there next Tuesday) this evening.

However, as another useful practice was building productively, misfortune hit. Like many other towers, the clock chimes on the hour using a hammer that strikes a bell, in this case the 13cwt tenor, with a wire attached and going down to the ringing chamber to enable the hammer to be pulled back out of the way of the bell when it is rung up, by means of securing it to a nail on the wall between the ropes of the fourth and fifth. The mechanism can be heard tugging on the hour, but the hammer remains held and away from the bell, essential if the bell is swinging at the time.

Tonight though, come 8pm, as the newly repaired chiming mechanism began tugging as it usually does, the wire worked loose, meaning that the hammer was too and being bashed by the tenor I was ringing at the time. As I frantically tried to set the bell in vain (I just couldn't get it up to the balance, presumably due to the hammer's presence breaking its momentum), others jumped around trying to grab the wire that was now dancing around the room to hook it back up. Pete Faircloth managed it, only for it to snap and fall to the ground. We could only surmise that the wire had been weakened and stretched enough to loosen the tension and allow it to wriggle off the nail on the wall, with tension from it being grabbed enough to break it. Meanwhile I had got the bell down as fast as I could, but as Mr Faircloth and I discovered when we went up to the bells to inspect, the damage was already done.

The broken hammer wire at Ufford. The broken hammer wire at Ufford. The broken hammer wire at Ufford.
The broken hammer wire at Ufford

The course of Cambridge Surprise Minor that we were ringing at the time for Margaret Weeks to practice her treble dodging was eventually completed on the front six, having taken forty minutes after initially been set up for Margaret to get a box and then one of the inside ringers going wayward even before the hullabaloo, the inspection and Pete calling the clock man Barry from the only spot in the vicinity with a mobile signal. Barry should hopefully be along to inspect and fix it in the coming days, which is another job for him, though mercifully for our new Prime Minister, not for Liz Truss.

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Monday 5th September 2022

We now know for sure that Liz Truss is due to become our new Prime Minister tomorrow and would be the fifth since the inception of this blog fourteen years and ten months ago.

St Mary-le-Tower. St Margaret. St Matthew.
St Mary-le-Tower, St Margaret & St Matthew

They won't be ready for our potential participation in the slated competition locations of either Cheltenham, Hursley or Melbourne in six months time, but this evening further highlighted the huge pool of learners in the Ipswich area, as a couple of them from Bramford joined us for the first time, along with a return visit from Mary & Roger Whittell's grandson Will, Claire Smith's son Tristan and our regular learners Judy & Sonia, with Judy even announcing that she had recruited a couple more! It is just the tip of the iceberg, with more at St Margaret's and St Matthew's across the town centre in encouraging times for ringing in and around the county town.

It means that the first half hour or so is put aside for their progress, with Plain Hunt on Nine being rung as I parked up and walked in, followed by rounds and call-changes on twelve, but we are delighted to be able to accommodate them. Besides, as the practice goes on, more advanced stuff does get done, building up from Grandsire Caters to Grandsire Cinques, Stedman Cinques and some Lincolnshire Surprise Royal, the latter particularly well rung as we had a visitor from the streets watching on who was sober and harmless, but unpredictable, meaning that Jonathan Williamson had his hands full keeping him under control as we rang the half-course!

Once a number of patient ringers had got him off church premises safely at the end, we retired to the Halberd Inn to sit outside as the warm summer continues, with the conversation pleasingly focused on learners and the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest, even on a day when a new Prime Minister was announced.

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Sunday 4th September 2022

When the empty buildings backing onto St Mary-le-Tower were being converted into an easyHotel a few years ago, there was a nagging worry that it would be fertile ground for complaints about the bells, especially on a Sunday morning. However, if our experience this morning was anything to go by, it shouldn't be an issue. Granted, we were in the middle looking over what would be gracious to call a courtyard, but it was noticeable that we didn't hear the bells at all until the front doors automatically opened after we'd checked out.

Our proximity to the heaviest ring of bells in the county meant that even after putting our suitcase back in the car, we were able to join our fellow ringers as soon as they finished the piece of ringing that had greeted us on coming out into the open from our functional overnight accommodation.

Great Bealings.I have to admit that I spent much of the ringing hanging off the tenor bonging behind with a sore head, although I did manage to treble to and call some call-changes on twelve and we both felt a lot better after a hot drink in Costa Coffee afterwards, before I dropped Ruthie off at Great Bealings for her to sing at a benefice service and I collected the boys from their Granny Kate.

Elsewhere in Suffolk meanwhile, there were quarter-peals of Yorkshire Surprise Royal and Cambridge Surprise Minor at The Norman Tower and Great Barton respectively, the former of which saw Ben Keating ring his first of Surprise Royal. Well done Ben!

The rest of our day was rather more mundane though, as we searched for school shoes for the children, returned others we'd ordered but which didn't fit them and popped back to the easyHotel to collect my shirt from yesterday which I'd left in the room when we'd left. Perhaps distracted by not being able to hear the bells!

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Saturday 3rd September 2022

Congratulations to Aldeburgh on winning the North-East District Striking Competition held at Wissett today and thus the Patricia Bailey Shield, as well as to Southwold's call-change and method teams on winning the Call-Change Trophy and the Harry Archer Trophy respectively. Indeed, well done all who took part with a bumper eight team turnout. I really hope we see a good number of them at the Guild Six-Bell Competitions due to take place in May, because this sounds like it was a hugely successful occasion. Additionally, at today's AGM of the Central Council in Nottingham (with next year's AGM due to held in Ipswich), it was announced that the intention is to hold a national call-change competition at Moseley in Birmingham on Saturday 3rd June 2023, something that hopefully bands within our borders will note and consider an entry for.

Meanwhile, it was great weather for the South-East District Walk and Ring around the beautiful Shotley Peninsula as members walked between the sixes of Harkstead, Stutton and Holbrook to ring.

I read this week's edition of The Ringing World which arrived with us this morning and includes an article on the history of peals of forty-one Surprise Minor methods that prominently features Suffolk influence, such as twice Past Guild Ringing Master David Salter ringing in the first peal of a bobs only composition to a normal length of the forty-one, rung at Childswickham in 2011. And the first all-the-work peal of it, rung in 12240 changes in the final days of 1988 at Grundisburgh by a resident band, an achievement recorded by a peal board in the ringing chamber there.

The view from our hotel room. The view from our hotel room. Ruthie enjoying a drink at Isaacs. The view of the waterfront from Issacs.

However, we were unable to do any actual ringing today, as we were having a weekend away... in Ipswich. For this afternoon was the wedding of our near neighbours Verity & Jade, the former being a schoolfriend of Ruthie's. With the boys having a sleepover at Granny Kate's and very kindly being taken to Sutton Hoo, we booked ourselves into the easyHotel that backs onto St Mary-le-Tower churchyard, aware that with the whole occasion being held at Issacs on the waterfront, we weren't likely to be able to drive back anywhere later! Which proved to be true, as having arrived unusually early, we found ourselves enjoying the warm and sunny conditions with a drink in the courtyard before anyone else had even got there!

Although of course it involved no bells (we neither offered nor was it asked for us to ring handbells mercifully!), the occasion itself was a wonderful one, catching up with friends not seen for a long time, with a moving ceremony at a superb venue in an almost exotic location by the marina on this nice late summer's day for a lovely couple. Congratulations Jade & Verity.

And congratulations Aldeburgh, Southwold and all those who entered the North-East District Striking Competition.

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Friday 2nd September 2022

Happy Golden Wedding Anniversary to Maurice & Anita Rose, who through my brother Chris' marriage to Becky we are actually related to! Maurice has been a stalwart of the Guild and huge help to many Suffolk ringers, especially in the North-West District, whilst despite not being a ringer herself, Anita has been a big support not just to the ringing of her husband, but also a regular presence at ringing events and helper with teas!

Horringer. Earl Stonham.
Horringer & Earl Stonham

Their significant and impressive anniversary was marked today at the tower that Maurice rang his first peal, Horringer, with a suitable length of 5050 changes of Double Norwich Court Bob Major after 2hr 48min of ringing on this superb ground-floor eight. It wasn't the only ringing in the county noted on BellBoard today, with the FNQPC ringing a 1260 of six Doubles methods and a principle on the 9cwt gallery-ring six of Earl Stonham in an impressive effort.

Nothing for us however, although a photo from the archives of The Ringing World Editor Will Bosworth brought up memories of a peal of Provost Alliance Maximus at St Philip's Cathedral in Birmingham from 1999, and we joined other ringers at Simon Rudd's virtual pub, which seemed to turn into an open mic comedy night as we enjoyed a drink or two.

Hopefully Maurice & Anita also enjoyed a tipple of their choice this evening. Happy Anniversary again!

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Thursday 1st September 2022

August has ended, September has begun and so choir practice returns for Ruthie after their summer sabbatical.

For me though, on a day the soon-to-be-ex Prime Minister was in our midst and news of the death of Theberton resident, church lover & supporter and broadcaster Bill Turnbull broke, it was a quiet day, certainly from a ringing perspective, as it seems to have been for many other ringers in Suffolk, with nothing recorded on BellBoard from within our borders.

God willing the exercise will be busier for us and others in the county in throughout the rest of September.

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Wednesday 31st August 2022

Amongst many other topics including announcing the formal appointment of a design, marketing and branding agency called yellowyoyo as a partner, CCCBR President Simon Linford's latest blog entry encourages readers to attend the Ringing Roadshow in Nottingham which is due to take place this weekend. As do I. If all goes to plan, this sounds like a superb occasion that is far removed from the closed event that the Central Council AGM Weekend used to be when I was a SGR Representative on the CC and there is much planned for all ringers.

Harkstead. Stutton. Holbrook. Wissett.
Harkstead, Stutton, Holbrook & Wissett

That said, there is also much lined up this Saturday within our borders as the South-East District intend to hold a Walk and Ring around the Shotley Peninsula, taking in Harkstead, Stutton and a meal in The King's Head in the village and then more ringing, at Holbrook for what should be a lovely experience, especially if the weather is nice. As should the North-East District Striking Competition, Bring and Share Tea and Quarterly Meeting at Wissett. Nice, easy going bells for a laid back, fun contest and social occasion in wonderful surroundings. What's not to enjoy!

Offton.It isn't the only striking competition slated for the county in September either, as the Guild Eight-Bell for The Rose Trophy is lined up to take place at Offton on Saturday 24th alongside the Guild Social, which should be another enjoyable event in a beautiful location that we here in Suffolk are blessed to have on our doorstep.

Elveden. Kersey. Polstead.
Elveden, Kersey & Polstead

There are more events lined up in similarly desirable places, such as the North-West District Practice at Elveden between 10am and noon on Saturday 10th and Midweek Ringing at Kersey & Polstead on Tuesday 13th, either side of a pub lunch at the Brewer's Arms in the latter village, both occasions that could also be useful, especially if you are learning or trying to get to grips with something on six and eight. Please do support them if you can.

Ringers in the churchyard at Pettistree practice.For all that September is God willing bringing, we still had some ringing to round August off with today, as whilst Joshua and I took Alfie to football training, Ruthie rang in the 1296 of ten Surprise Minor methods at Pettistree that the boys and I joined later as folk enjoyed the churchyard in daylight for one of the last times this year on this final evening of 2022's meteorological summer. Whilst there, my wife and I contributed towards a session that took in call-changes to spliced Grandsire & Stedman Doubles and spliced London & Wells Surprise Minor, the latter of which I called. We were also present for the delivery of the freshly printed Pettistree People that featured a superb spread on the ringers sent in by Mary Garner. Great local PR!

Meanwhile, the aforementioned QP on the ground-floor six wasn't the only one within our borders, with a 1264 of Plain Bob Major rung on handbells in Moats Tye, adding to variety of ringing that yellowyoyo can hopefully market successfully.

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Tuesday 30th August 2022

Suffolk ringers were branching out beyond our borders today.

South of the River Stour, two quarter-peals on ten were rung, with a 1367 of Grandsire Caters at Coggeshall followed by a 1282 of Cambridge Surprise Royal at Braintree, whilst north of the River Waveney, Ruths Suggett & Young were ringing in a 1280 of Superlative Surprise Major at The Cubby Hole in Garvestone.

Ufford. I was ringing very much within our borders though. Indeed, pretty much as locally as I can get as I was again taken to the next village by mother-in-law Kate with Susanne Eddis and Pete Faircloth for the weekly practice at Ufford. Over the three weeks we have been going along, I'd like to think we have helped some of the regulars, especially Hollesley learners Daniel Atkinson and Margaret Weeks, the former doing really well with counting his place as he trebled to Plain Hunt on Seven and Plain Bob Doubles, the latter getting to grips with touches of Grandsire Doubles & Triples.

They may even be ready to take their skills beyond our borders.

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Monday 29th August 2022

Bank Holiday Mondays can offer moments of quiet that weekdays at work, Saturday mornings with football training or Sundays with ringing simply don't allow and today's did give me the opportunity to look back on previous blog entries.

Precisely ten years ago, I was commenting on how the late Harry Archer of Saxmundham was 113th in Pealbase's list of ringers who have rung peals on a tenor. Sadly of course, he hasn't had the chance to add to that number, but it is interesting to see how after a decade he has only fallen to 131st with John Warboys being the latest to overtake him with his 358th on the tenor (at least nine of which I have had the privilege of ringing in) with the 5040 of forty-one Surprise Minor methods spliced rung at Wadenhoe in Northamptonshire recently.

John was further adding to his numbers today with the 3hr 25min of Bristol Surprise Maximus at Solihull (where incidentally my one and only peal there was conducted by him) on a typically busy bank holiday of peal ringing on higher numbers, with all bar one of the ten towerbell peals rung today being on either ten or twelve bells, including one of Cambridge Surprise Royal at St Neots in Cambridgeshire that featured Suffolk Guild Ringing Master Katharine Salter, although a handbell peal of Lincolnshire Surprise Major in Wokingham was a first in the method in hand for former Halesworth ringer Maggie Ross. Well done Maggie!

I wasn't adding to my 115 peals on a tenor or moving from my position at joint 498th on the aforementioned list today, nor Ruthie to her totals as having spent the morning sorting through the boys' bedroom whilst their Granny Kate very kindly took them swimming, we welcomed them back and then greeted our friends Charlotte & Gregory and their daughters - and our Goddaughters - Ava & Bea round to ours for a BBQ, which also meant I missed joining St Mary-le-Tower practice on this occasion.

Offton. Buxhall. Coddenham.
Offton, Buxhall & Coddenham

Mercifully though, others were busier in the art within our borders, with a band from Essex ringing Hal Meakin's first of Superlative Surprise Major in the 1250 at Offton (well done Hal!), whilst predominantly resident bands rang QPs of Double Norwich Court Bob Major and Yorkshire Surprise Major at Buxhall and Coddenham respectively.

Meanwhile, whilst perusing Pealbase today, I also discovered that in a new section about towers where the most peals have been rung, Grundisburgh come in at number eighteen and I am at number twelve of leading peal-ringers on the county's lightest twelve. God willing it'll be interesting to see how those stats might change when I may be looking back on them on a future Bank Holiday Monday.

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Sunday 28th August 2022

I've commented occasionally over the last few weeks that holidays generally skew attendances at ringing, sometimes positively when ringers visit from elsewhere or someone local has more time to pop along, sometimes negatively when regulars are away.

This week, it is worth noting that the usual Tuesday practices at Offton and Woodbridge aren't happening and I expect there will be others too, understandably so at this time of year. Please do check before travelling to a session, as is normally sage advice if you are planning on going somewhere you don't usually.

St Mary-le-Tower. As things stand though, St Mary-le-Tower are intending on having a practice on the Bank Holiday Monday, but this morning we were short with quite a few of the usual attendees on holiday. Nonetheless, with the help of Tina Sanderson from York and Ruthie (with her church choir still on their August sabbatical) and Ralph Earey running the show superbly, we managed both Grandsire & Stedman Caters before retiring to Costa Coffee for post-ringing refreshment.

Grundisburgh. That wasn't the end of our ringing today though, as we travelled on to Grundisburgh where a reasonable number allowed for some Stedman Triples on the back eight and then call-changes on nine, much to my wife's delight!

From there we were at home for the rest of the day as we welcomed Mrs Munnings' best friend Fergie for tea and Harry Potter jelly bean roulette (rotten egg flavour really is as grim as it sounds) whilst she is catching up with friends and family in her home town.

The Vestey Ring. The Norman Tower. Others were ringing in the county this afternoon though. Hopefully there was enough support at the Shottisham Fete for The Vestey Ring and across the county at The Norman Tower there was a quarter-peal of Stedman Cinques rung by a band all resident within our borders. Impressive, especially at this time of year!

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Saturday 27th August 2022

For us it was a day of football, from the disappointment of Alfie's friendly match being cancelled when we all arrived to find another event being set up on the pitch, to going to Portman Road where naturally enough Ipswich Town's biggest winning streak for years ended as soon as we came to watch them this afternoon with a nonetheless exhilarating 2-2 draw with Barnsley.

As has become traditional, beforehand we met St Peter Mancroft Norwich Ringing Master and Past RM of St Mary-le-Tower Simon Rudd for a drink, him fresh from a well attended Surprise Major session at the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre, highlighting again the tremendous benefits of such a set-up. However, along with reading the latest issue of The Ringing World which arrived with us this morning, that was the closest we got to ringing and whilst there were demonstrations on ringing on the unique five of East Bergholt, there wasn't anything to report from the county on BellBoard.

Tostock.There was something extra from yesterday though, with Dove's Guide's newest team member Neal Dodge ringing his first quarter-peal of Norfolk Surprise Minor in the 1320 at Tostock. Well done Neal and Happy Birthday Andrea Alderton's sister Val Hewer, who has rung a number of quarter-peals with the band via Ringing Room from Canada.

They were more successful then we were with our football endeavours today though and indeed more active than we were in our ringing endeavours.

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Friday 26th August 2022

Henley.Well done to Richard Baldwin, who became the second ringer in the county this week to ring their first quarter-peal, as he trebled to a 1260 of St Simon's, St Martin's & Plain Bob Doubles at Henley.

There was also a peal for the Guild south of the Essex border at Great Bardfield, which we heard about from one of the participants Simon Rudd at his weekly virtual pub this evening, along with news that the post-peal pint cost an incredible (outside of London at least) £5.80, on a day when the staggering rise in the energy price 'cap' focused the minds of many on the price of just living.

Meanwhile, congratulations are in order for SGR Public Relations Officer Neal Dodge, who has joined the Dove's Guide team, as announced on Facebook in deservedly glowing terms by Dickon Love. Another significant ringing notch on top of a number of significant ringing notches for a Suffolk boy done good.

One of the owls, with the reflection of St Nicholas' church in the Willis Building behind. There was nothing as notable to record personally today, nor did we do any ringing (though we did have some beer, albeit not at £5.80 a pint) and indeed we only made Simon's chat for the last twenty minutes or so after we returned from taking the boys to another birthday party at Play2Day in Martlesham Heath. However, having had an afternoon off work, we all went into Ipswich to see some more owls on the town's Big Hoot trail, briefly bumping into former St Mary-le-Tower Ringing Master Owen Claxton and his wife Anne along the way.

Nothing from a ringing perspective to beat Richard Baldwin's achievements today though. Well done again Richard!

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Thursday 25th August 2022

Every now and then you get a reminder of the environment in which we do our ringing. The article that appeared on the East Anglian Daily Times website today about the charity event in Bruisyard cut short after a single complaint had me despairing. Music was the main cause of the disgruntled villager's gripe and one imagines that they were bothered by it going late into the night, but no! This was an occasion running from noon until 6pm on Saturday, presumably advertised and raising money for the Brain Tumour Research Charity, as well as - through drinks apparently - the Village Hall funds, something which would presumably be of benefit to the complainant, or at least their community. Of course, one can never judge and who knows what was going on in that person's life, but on every level it appears to be an extremely uncharitable reaction from the resident.

A simple threat to call the police seems to have been enough to frighten organisers into curtailing proceedings, but as others commenting in or on the article have noted and most ringers know, it is unlikely that the police are going to do anything other than refer complainants to the local council. Still, it goes to show the effect that even the most seemingly unreasonable complaint can have, so it hopefully renews our awareness that we should be careful with our relationship with neighbours.

St Gregory. With the local church of St Peter housing just a single 6cwt bell cast in 1867 by John Warner of London, it won't be change-ringing that will cause any issues in this village, at least in the near future. However, there may be more ringing at St Gregory's in Sudbury where the 16cwt eight have been rehung and the test ring there was shared via the Bellringers Facebook page by bellhanger Andrew Mills today, complete with local ringers taking part.

Baedwell.And hopefully there were no complaints at Bardwell for the quarter-peal of Superlative Surprise Major rung in celebration of Maurice & Anita Rose's Golden Wedding Anniversary and which judging by the band should have been of a high quality. Congratulations Anita and Maurice on an impressive landmark.

No ringing for us though - for the first time this week for me - as we stayed at home trying to live in harmony with our neighbours.

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Wednesday 24th August 2022

Pettistree. On a summer's Wednesday evening, there are few better places to be then at Pettistree practice. The cooling church and sunbaked churchyard, all in the sound of generally very good ringing of an eclectic repertoire. Tonight, that included Grandsire & Stedman Doubles spliced, a busy touch of spliced Doubles & Minor and plain courses of Cambridge, Carlisle, London & Westminster Surprise Minor during a session high on quality and productivity ended with Stedman Doubles and down, with the only downside being that The Greyhound remains closed for now as we await the new owners opening it.

It was nice to see the Garners back from their travels that took in a trip to Guildford, where the warm welcome given them by the Cathedral ringers at their practice is a wonderful example of the ringing family at its best. Well done Guildford Cathedral's ringers who already featured high in my estimation (and that of many others) for their marvelous hosting of the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final a couple of months ago.

Henley.Mike Cowling was also present at the ground-floor six tonight, having earlier rung in a 5088 of X Surprise Major at Henley, a 2hr 48min that saw Past Guild Ringing Master Jed Flatters complete the Surprise Major alphabet to peals.

Pettistree QP band.However, the headline of the day within our borders was on the bells I was ringing on this evening, as the pre-practice quarter-peal saw John Horsnell ring his first in the medium. Congratulations John, who hopefully also enjoyed his summer's Wednesday evening at Pettistree.

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Tuesday 23rd August 2022

Little Cornard. It was unusually late this week, but I enjoyed reading The Ringing World when it finally arrived with us today. Not least for the photo of our county's very own Little Cornard on the front and the wonderfully evocative piece on the inside by Jill Apter, describing how the church "stands peacefully amongst the beautiful arable fields and pastures of south Suffolk, accessed only via narrow, winding country lanes, lined by high hedgerows full of native species, blackthorn, wild roses and blackberries." And the first peal on the bells got another outing in the publication.

Elsewhere in the journal, Tim Hart's first peal on handbells made it to number one on 'What's Hot on BellBoard' and having had the same thoughts about getting learners more involved in District and Guild events when I was SGR Ringing Master, I was interested to read the thoughts and ideas of current Oxford Diocesan Guild Master Catherine Lane.

Ufford. There was nothing on BellBoard from within our borders today to go in future editions, but I did manage some ringing as myself, Susanne Eddis and Pete Faircloth returned to help at Ufford's weekly practice as we were again collected by Ringing Master Kate Eagle. Also again we were useful, even if just for shear numbers, as we enabled Grandsire Triples and really well struck Cambridge Surprise Minor to be rung, as well as giving Daniel Atkinson more opportunity to ring Plain Hunt on Seven and Margaret Weeks to ring inside to a touch of Grandsire Doubles and try some treble dodging.

Meanwhile, God willing The Vestey Ring will be at the Shottisham Fete from 12-3 on Sunday if anyone fancies an afternoon out in a lovely part of the world, to enjoy the festivities and help out on the mini-ring. Perhaps there might even be a photo or two and article on it to go in The Ringing World in the next few weeks.

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Monday 22nd August 2022

Polstead. Happy 98th Birthday to Ed Hynard, former Tower Captain at Polstead and one of the many fondly remembered characters of my ringing youth, a part of that band of what already seemed elderly ringers linking us to ringing in Suffolk in a bygone age. In Ed's case, the 1950s.

He moved to Guernsey many years ago, but today, the anniversary of his birth in 1924 was celebrated with an appropriate length of Original & Cambridge Surprise Minor on the 9cwt ground-floor six where he once ran the ringing.

The 5098 wasn't the only ringing on this Monday to appear on BellBoard from within our borders, with a quarter-peal of Plain Bob Major rung in Moats Tye on handbell.

Meanwhile in Bournemouth, former Bardwell ringer Louis Suggett was a member of the band who rang the first ever peal of Surprise in hand for the Salisbury Diocesan Guild. Well done all concerned!

It didn't feature on BB, but I did some ringing too, as I joined the weekly practice at St Mary-le-Tower. With holiday season still ongoing, numbers were still a little low, although we benefitted from the visit of Norman Tower ringer Julian Colman and briefly Mary Whittell with her and Roger's grandson who rang some rounds on twelve.

He was one of a number of learners welcomed tonight for whom we rang rounds on twelve, but there was also more advanced ringing, including Stedman Caters and spliced Cambridge & Yorkshire Surprise Royal on ten and Grandsire Cinques, Stedman Cinques and Little Bob Maximus on the twelve.

All of which was topped off with a drink in the beer garden of the Halberd Inn on another warm evening.

Hopefully Ed Hynard was also able to enjoy a tipple of his choice today. Happy Birthday Ed!

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Sunday 21st August 2022

Occasionally even we have to take time out to do chores. The daily ones like washing clothes and loading the dishwasher get done regularly, primarily as with two or three boys in the house, washing and dirty dishes get piled up every few hours, but today we tackled the cupboards used in our house for long term storage. So long term in fact, that there is stuff in there that we had put away when we moved in here five years ago, such as mine and Ruthie's school & uni certificates & work, copies of The Ringing World featuring my first peal in 1992 and the one of Grandsire Cinques at Grundisburgh in 2002 that saw my now wife become the youngest Suffolk female to ring a peal on twelve, alongside photos and newspapers like the ones published on the days that the boys were born. It was the bits and pieces that had come along since that really needed sorting though, like the boys' schoolwork and artwork, achievements & certificates, photos and the like, along with matchday & concert programmes, as well as birthday & Christmas cards all of which we had wanted to keep for sentimental reasons, but most of which had simply been tossed haphazardly into any spare hidden space. Unsurprisingly though, that space had been filled and so after purchasing a couple of large storage boxes yesterday, this afternoon I set about the task of transferring it into more compact spaces with a view to them going in the loft, whilst downstairs Mrs Munnings cooked a much appreciated roast dinner for the family!

St Mary-le-Tower. We did do some ringing today, with the lady I married ten years and ten days ago also joining the children and me at St Mary-le-Tower, with her church choir on their usual August break. We were part of a big crowd that as we were arriving early (I know, we were surprised too!) were ringing an extremely good piece of Grandsire Cinques. Knowing one or two regulars were away, the fact that they were already well into a touch on all twelve initially made us wonder if there were visiting ringers, but we climbed the stairs to discover that the band ringing were made up entirely of local ringers. A testament to the progress being made here.

They and us were joined by more locals, as well as Enid Roberts from Australia, a country where with the hanging of the 5cwt six at Darwin's St Mary's Cathedral there is now apparently a ring of bells hung for change-ringing in every "state and internal, self-governing territory", according to the footnote to yesterday's first ringing on them..

She helped us to ring some well rung Stedman Cinques, whilst there was also some Little Bob Maximus and rounds and call-changes on twelve with our German learner Jacob on his final ring with us before departing back to his homeland wearing one of the shirts produced for the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final in Guildford for the band and our supporters, as presented to him this morning.

Grundisburgh. As he was beginning his journey home, many of the rest of us retired to Costa Coffee for post-ringing refreshment, before we five headed onto Grundisburgh, where - once we'd negotiated our way around various road closures including Tuddenham - we contributed to some Plain Bob Doubles and Grandsire Triples and I was asked to put the clock back on the wall under direction from below!

And before we got going on the more mundane necessities of caring for a family home, there was one last opportunity to prevaricate as I took Joshua to his classmate's birthday party. This was held at Martlesham Heath Pavilion, next door to the (as far as I know) bell-less St Michael and All Angels, all of which was a new location to me, but it was a lovely venue by the Green that allowed a match of football and tug of war out the front at this sporting-themed celebration, as well as a playground round the back which was also enjoyed by Josh and his peers.

Wissett. Elsewhere in the county, there was more ringing with Andrew Craddock - who runs the excellent Pealbase - pulling the tenor into the 1260 of St Clement's College Bob Minor at Wissett that was Keith Dennis' first in the method. Well done Keith! I hope you got your chores done too.

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Saturday 20th August 2022

We might have been at the ART Learning the Ropes Festival at the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich today. Indeed, the boys and ourselves had very kindly been invited along. However, despite their recently increased forays into the art, the children still aren't bitten by it and so we didn't feel able to take up the offer.

Besides, today was the day that Alfie was taking a big step in what it has to be said is his main focus at the moment, football. He has joined one of the local under-nines teams for the forthcoming season and today he was playing in his first ever organised match, complete with kit. On this occasion it was a couple of friendly practice matches against the under-eights with mixed fortunes, although he was chuffed with a clean sheet (he didn't conceded any goals, for those not up with footy lingo) when he played as goalkeeper.

Having never done this before (although I briefly played for an under-elevens side), we have no idea how this will affect our ability to get out to ringing events. He and Joshua have been doing training on Saturday mornings for the best part of a year, but today's games started and finished later than that and there should be away fixtures, albeit I imagine not over too large an area. That said, God willing we'll still be able to join afternoon and evening events on the first day of weekends and it is a delight for us to see the joy he gets from it and the friendships he is forging through it.

From reports and photos on social media , sorry as we were to miss it, it appears the event north of the border went well though, so well done to all concerned.

Above an even more northern border meanwhile, Guild Ringing Master Katharine Salter was ringing a peal of Stedman Caters at Inverarary which as well as remembering Past Master of the College Youths Paul Williams, also celebrated the recent engagement of Katharine's son and former Ipswich ringer George to Rachel, with Rachel's mother Gillian ringing the treble and her other half - and my friend from ringing in Birmingham Paul Bibilo - also in the band. Congratulations George & Rachel!

No ringing peals at Inverarary for us though. Not on this Saturday at least.

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Friday 19th August 2022

St Gregory.On the Suffolk Guild Facebook page this week, John Smith has shared a picture of the Villedieu-les-Poeles in Normandy and it was imparted that there are no imminent plans to restart the ten-bell practices at Beccles, although it is something they'd like to do again if there is enough support. Predominantly though, it has been awash with photos of the return of the bells to St Gregory's in Sudbury for rehanging in the existing frame with new fittings following restoration and retuning.

Ringing social media was more visibly active than actual ringing within our borders today though, with the closest being the county's links in other performances, such as in the 5040 of Cambridge Surprise Royal at Rothwell in Northamptonshire with a Dutch-Australian combination on the tenors.

Personally, we weren't any closer to adding to the numbers, but we did manage to meet up with ringing friends at Simon Rudd's virtual pub for the first time for a few weeks where 1970s comedy and Enid Blyton's books were amongst the topics of conversation, along with ringing, unsurprisingly. Certainly nothing worth sharing on the Suffolk Guild Facebook page however.

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Thursday 18th August 2022

One of the subjects CCCBR President Simon Linford raised yesterday in the latest of his typically excellent blog entries, is the condition of ringing chambers. In my humble opinion, the state of some ringing chambers is probably one of the most off-putting elements to potential recruits. It would be unfair in the extreme for me to name names, not least because that bells can be rung at so many places at all is down to the not inconsiderable efforts of volunteers, sometimes over many decades. However, we've all been to places where the ringing chamber is more akin to a storage cupboard and even requires ringers to move things out of the way to be able to start ringing. Many have sparse, uncomfortable seating or ineffective heating, sometimes no heating at all and in winter especially can be very uninviting places. The lack of an easily accessible toilet in some places may also put people off, especially those for whom finding a bush as a last resort isn't a practical option. Although one of the many pleasing aspects of the recent Rambling Ringers Tour to Leicestershire was that almost every tower we visited had such facilities close to hand, often in the church, which wasn't the case when I first began going on ringing outings thirty years ago!

Of course, it can be difficult to change some things. We are limited by the nature of our habitats, which are in old, restricted spaces that can't simply be bashed about, rebuilt or altered anymore than relatively basically. Taking the clutter out means that it has to go somewhere else in the church, which simply might not be possible, hence why it ended up in the ringing chamber in the first place, with it being one of the few rooms in a lot of churches where the contents can be hidden up straightforwardly. If your ringing chamber is upstairs and only just big enough to accommodate the rope circle, seating has to be shoehorned in with little space for comfort. And of course WCs aren't something that ringers can just put in, although they could always sow the seeds by suggesting one or lend their voice to a chorus requesting it.

However, there is still much that most bands could do to make their base more inviting, such as simply keeping it clean. As Simon points out, you could ensure out of date or irrelevant posters are taken down. If you can get carpet in and even better fitted that instantly makes a ringing chamber feel more homely to me, especially in the colder months. We may be getting into the realms of faculties, but perhaps in some places storage space could be created in the ringing chamber if unavoidable church clutter is an issue. Don Price's superb carpentry can be found at Grundisburgh and Ufford for example, although sadly his recent passing means his considerable skills are now lost to us. Look into how best to heat your ringing chamber, with of course a ground-floor or gallery ring open to the church (or outdoors in Cotton's case!) harder to warm than an enclosed room with a low ceiling. Easier said than done I know, with ringing chambers swarming with holes above and sometimes below and through ancient doorways and windows. Whatever you can do, I hope that Suffolk's ringing chambers can be made as habitable as possible, particularly with autumn due to creep up on us shortly, unless something extraordinary with the weather happens. Which can't be ruled out these days.

This was a topic that came up on Ringing Forums, which gives me another opportunity to encourage readers to look at it. Essentially it is a place that is aimed at giving ringers somewhere to ask ringing related questions without the fear of it descending into a slanging match as things occasionally (usually?) do on social media and there are lots of engaging discussions being carried out largely in an atmosphere of civility and helpfulness.
It also gave me something to read on my first evening off ringing this week, whilst I sat at home, where we could probably do with tidying up and making it a bit more welcoming...

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Wednesday 17th August 2022

An extremely busy day on Suffolk's bells with six quarter-peals rung within our borders.
Half of them were by a band visiting from Essex as they rang a 1320 of Kent Treble Bob Minor at Edwardstone that was Samuel Beech's first in the method, a 1296 of Cambridge Surprise Minor at Higham and 1260 of Pinehurst Bob Minor at Polstead which was the entire band's debut in the line. Well done to the firsts!

There was also an additional brace rung to help towards the sound recordings of the county's bells as part of the Guild centenary celebrations. Today that saw 1280 of four Plain Minor methods rung at the ground-floor six of Bacton and a 1274 of Grandsire Triples rung on the 19cwt eight of Eye. This is a marvelous project and was recently added to in lovely fashion with a couple of extracts from the peal of Carpenter's End Delight Major rung at Southwold on 27th July in memory of Don Price which can be found on the tower's page on this website, as well as on a separate page dedicated to the 5184 of three weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the pre-practice quarter-peal at Pettistree of Netherseale Surprise Minor was successful ahead of a session that I eventually made once I'd been to Alfie's first pre-season football training with the team he is due to play with this season. I managed to squeeze a fair bit in the sub-hour I was there, from Plain Bob Doubles to spliced Minor, although sadly The Greyhound remains closed whilst the new owners continue to revamp the character-laden pub to their liking.

Back home early, I took the opportunity to read CCCBR President Simon Linford's latest blog entry, which was shared on the Central Council's website today. In it he imparts some memories of his recent attendance on the inaugural North West Ringing Course, the use of TikTok in promoting ringing and a ringing related murder mystery evening.

I'm glad to report that ringers in Suffolk were too busy for murder today though!

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Tuesday 16th August 2022

Rain and thunderstorms have finally landed on some of the UK's parched, yellow lands. Ipswich Town's 1-0 victory in Burton tonight was apparently accompanied by quite a lot of the wet stuff, whilst another match due to be played in Gloucestershire in the same division was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Ufford.Still nothing here in Suffolk though, at least round Woodbridge anyway. There were a few drops that briefly dampened the ground this afternoon, but come this evening, I was still in what has - bar for the office and a wedding - been my standard dress for the last few weeks of shorts and t-shirt, as I attended what was still a humid ringing chamber at Ufford for the weekly practice. Having been picked up and taken there with Pete Faircloth and Susanne Eddis by Ringing Master and mother-in-law Kate Eagle, I was there to help bolster the numbers during this unpredictable holiday period where attendances can vary with absentees and surprise attendees and happily I was able to contribute to a session that included much from call-changes on eight & Plain Hunt on Seven to Plain Bob Triples & Cambridge Surprise Minor.

Though not Ringin' in the Rain Bob Minor yet...

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Monday 15th August 2022

Going back to work after a fortnight off always carries with it an air of the subdued, but at least neither of us are subjected to lengthy and depressing commutes and both enjoy our jobs. And with the latest issue of The Ringing World arriving with us today, there was still opportunity to escape back to a world beyond work. On this occasion, Grundisburgh Ringing Master and twice Past Master of the Guild Stephen Pettman reported on the trip he led of a number of ringers to the sixtieth Annual Meeting of the Italian National Federation of Bell Ringers in May, but otherwise there wasn't anything Suffolk related bar the usual healthy amount of quarter-peal and peal reports and an interesting letter about Past SGR Chairman Philip Gorrod's excellent article about Huntingfield Little Bob Doubles in last week's edition. Still packed with interesting stuff though.

For the boys their holidays continue of course, but they finally returned from the weekend away that their grandparents very kindly took them on to enable Ruthie and me to go to Aldeburgh. I can't deny that it was lovely to have a couple of days just to ourselves, but we did miss them and were overjoyed to see them again, complete with their excited tales and tubs of pebbles and shells!

The holiday season also continues generally of course and continues to affect ringing, such as that at St Mary-le-Tower, where with a handful of regulars away mitigated in part by visitors like Alex Tatlow, the weekly practice had a different feel about it, even besides a couple of spectators from Hong Kong sitting in on proceedings. There were lots of rounds and call-changes on twelve for our learners, whilst one of the exercise's newest quarter-pealers Jakob rang the 34cwt tenor excellently on his last Monday before returning to Germany. There was also spliced Cambridge & Yorkshire Surprise Royal and a touch of Stedman Cinques, whilst it was lovely to ring with former Ringing Master here Owen Claxton who has been absent through ill-health.

Owen also joined us in the Halberd Inn afterwards, along with the vicar Tom Mumford to top off a convivial evening that was the perfect antidote to the subdued return to work!

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Sunday 14th August 2022

During our weekend in Aldeburgh to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, this morning was the closest we got to ringing. Indeed, it was our intention to join the local ringers on the 11cwt eight. However, with 10-10.30am ringing, the process of getting breakfast at The Cross Keys between 9 and 10, booking out by 10.30 and then getting our case to the car a couple of streets away just took too long. We were delighted to hear them from the seafront as we put our stuff in the car though and even more so to hear a high standard of ringing that wouldn't be out of place at a striking contest. Perhaps we will have an Aldeburgh entry in the 2023 Guild competition due to take place in the North-West District on Saturday 20th May? I really hope so.

Despite our failure to get to the ringing chamber that I have rung five peals in and Ruthie four, there was still plenty going on and things to do. The funfair near the Moot Hall was again busy as part of the ever popular carnival, the 10k race got underway and we explored the shops of this wonderful seaside town, before we eventually made it to the church to search for the graves of famous composers Imogen Holst and Benjamin Britten, as well the latter's partner and renowned tenor Peter Pears and then ultimately returned home after a lovely weekend. We have missed the boys a lot, but safe in the knowledge that they have thus far been having a great time with their grandparents (probably much more so than they would've had with their parents on this occasion!), we have enjoyed the opportunity to do things not practical or even possible with children and more importantly spend quality time together just chatting and relaxing. The Cross Keys has been great, Aldeburgh has been great, Thorpeness was great. It was all great! Staggering that we could feel so far away from everyday life in a place just twenty minutes drive away in the same county and even the same district council area!

Whilst we were returning to normality (albeit still without the children), others in Suffolk feature on BellBoard, with a quarter-peal of Grandsire Caters rung at The Norman Tower pleasing to see. And at least they managed to get to some ringing!

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Saturday 13th August 2022

Yesterday's handbell peal in Bury St Edmunds has impressed so much that today it is BellBoard's most popular performance. Conductor Simon Rudd was already on to the next peal though, as he called the 5015 of Grandsire Cinques at The Norman Tower which featured our fellow Rambling Ringer Harm Jan de Kok.

Our view outside The Dolphin in Thorpeness. No ringing for us today again though, as we continued our weekend away in Aldeburgh. Although that said, we spent much of it in Thorpeness, a two-mile, three-quarters of an hour walk up the coast. Most will be aware that this is a village almost entirely built just a century ago as a sort of fantasy and it does feel like it is in a different world. Indeed, sat outside The Dolphin on another clear, roasting hot day with a pint of beer overlooking the garden as someone accompanied a keyboard player singing various pop songs, it seemed almost dreamy. We miss the boys dearly, we really genuinely do, but we'd almost forgotten how to be as relaxed as this, just us two together for such a long period, with nowhere to be and nothing to get done.

Ruthie rowing on Thorpeness Meare. Perhaps we were all the more relaxed after the long hot walk to this community and then an hour-and-a-half rowing on the famous Meare. Neither of us had ever picked an oar up in anger and it will be no surprise to many that the lack of coordination that hinders my handbell ringing also didn't help us here, but eventually I got into a groove and with Ruthie managing this new skill far better than me, we actually covered quite a lot of water. After fearing we would make very public idiots of ourselves, it was ultimately an extremely enjoyable experience that God willing we'd like to bring the boys on one day.

No bells here! No bells here - House in the Clouds.
No bells here!

For all that this is an extraordinary place, it isn't on the usual ringing circuit of course, as the only bell noted here is one in St Mary's church, although even that may not be there anymore as having been redundant since the 1980s, it now appears to be a house. Still, there are a number of venues here that I pictured hanging a ring of bells in. I'm not convinced of the structural viability of a ring of twelve in the House in the Clouds though.

Ruthie enjoying a drink on the terrace at The Wentworth Hotel. Eventually we dragged ourselves away from this idyllic location, albeit to return to another extremely nice place. After another lengthy walk back, we rewarded ourselves with a drink on the terrace out the front of The Wentworth Hotel looking out over the North Sea, fishing boats and on this occasion a funfair for Aldeburgh Carnival which is now in full swing until Monday.


From there we wandered further south to the White Hart Inn, before a wonderful meal in the Regatta Restaurant and then finishing in the beer garden back at our base of The Cross Keys. Along with Ipswich Town winning convincingly to go top of the league table (early days and all that!) and that peal at The Norman Tower, it was a lovely day.

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Friday 12th August 2022

eBells. Lockdown was a terrible time for ringing, but for some it was an opportunity to progress their ringing in other ways, perhaps no more so than Norman Tower ringer Tim Hart. Turning to Ringing Room and then eBells, he honed his handbell skills to the extent that in October 2020 he rang his first quarter-peal in hand and over the next eighteen months progressed to QPs of spliced Major up to fifty-three methods. And today he rang his first peal on handbells and in impressive style, as he rang 7-8 to a 5184 of twenty-seven Surprise Major methods in Bury St Edmunds. What is more, he rang it with David Sparling, Paul Cammiade and conductor Simon Rudd who were all ringing their most spliced on handbells. Phenomenal achievement all round!

We didn't get anywhere near that level of ringing today though. In fact, we didn't do any ringing at all, as a week after being on holiday pretty much as far from the sea as you can get in the UK, we were holidaying pretty much as close to the sea as you can get in the UK.

Ruthie in The Anchor. For today, we dropped the boys off with their Granny Kate & Grandad Ron for their own weekend in Sussex in their caravan and headed off for a couple of nights in my favourite pub in Suffolk, The Cross Keys in Aldeburgh, via a meal for us at The Anchor in Woodbridge and farewell drinks to Ian, one of only two people who have worked at John Catt Educational longer than me.

View from our room at The Cross Keys. Ruthie at The Cross Keys.Once we'd made it to the coast and booked in though, and despite the temptation to simply go to the bar, we actually took a walk as far as Aldeburgh Yacht Club. With the boys hopefully enjoying themselves down south, we took advantage of being able to just sit and enjoy the sounds and sights of the North Sea lapping against the shingle beach and watching a fisherman.

We wandered back into town avoiding The White Hart which was so busy custom was spilling out onto the pavement and mingling with the queues for the fish 'n' chip shop next door and after much searching ended up in DP's before finishing the evening back at base.

It was lovely, but not as exciting from a ringing perspective as Tim Hart's day!

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Thursday 11th August 2022

Ten years. A decade. Tenth of a century. Precisely how long Ruthie and I have been Mr & Mrs Munnings.

One hundred and twenty months on and our day was a mix of that day and our present circumstances.

Alfie and Joshua are a happy progression from 11th August 2012 and both are already very strong characters and personalities in their own right, with friendships developing at school, so it wasn't surprising that part of our day was taken up by me taking our youngest son to his classmate's birthday party at a venue that has become very familiar, Play2Day. On this occasion though, Josh was playing Lazer-Tag, once he'd overcome his nervousness at the prospect!

Later, we wandered down to Woodbridge to the library to allow Alfie to take part in a summer holidays reading challenge (Joshie was reluctant to take part this afternoon) on the way to a meet up with a strong link to 11/08/2012. For we had arranged to meet one of our ushers from that day, Toby, along with his wife Amy and their children Oscar and my Goddaughter Maddie in the beer garden of The Cherry Tree.

St Mary-le-Tower.Unlike the day we got married when quarter-peals were rung at Pettistree and Monmouth for the occasion and I managed half a course of Yorkshire Surprise Major on the 25cwt eight in Woodbridge before the ceremony, we weren't ringing today. However, there was ringing in Suffolk, most notably at St Mary-le-Tower where our young learner Jakob Hirschmann rang his first quarter-peal. Sadly it is just before he returns to his native Germany, but he has been an extremely affable presence at our practices and extremely diligent in his learning, so I am delighted that he reached this landmark before he left. Who knows, perhaps he may be back one day to pick up where he left off?

Instead, Ruthie and I returned home for some fizzy to celebrate a wonderful ten years, decade and tenth of a century.

Happy Anniversary Ruthie!

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Wednesday 10th August 2022

For us, it was a day of jobs around the house. Not very exciting, but necessary from time to time and when off work is the best time to do it, so long as one doesn't book one's time up ringing!

Horringer.There were exhibitions of the art going on elsewhere in Suffolk though, notably the peal at Horringer, which was the second of spliced Surprise Major for the Guild this week, with a 5056 of Cambridge, Lincolnshire, London, Rutland & Yorkshire rung in 2hr 45min on this lovely 8cwt ground-floor eight.

Pettistree.The third ringer in that Mike Cowling was one of the many high quality ringers present at the practice at Pettistree this evening for the only ringing we managed today, accompanied by the boys. The presence of Mr Cowling and the like meant that although there were a handful of regulars missing, we still managed a varied repertoire that included spliced Doubles and Minor, but whilst the session was preceded by a 1296 of Cambridge Surprise Minor which was very kindly dedicated to our tenth wedding anniversary, it wasn't followed by a drink at The Greyhound, which is now closed until the owners are up and running.

It seems they have even more jobs around the house then us!

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Tuesday 9th August 2022

It was a day of dissatisfactory football but satisfying ringing.

To get the football out of the way, we returned to Portman Road to watch our first Ipswich Town match of the 2022/23 season, which on this occasion was our opportunity to witness the Tractor Boys' annual first round exit from the League Cup. This time it was to our friends down the A12, Colchester United. Still, it was nice to meet up with St Peter Mancroft Ringing Master and Past Master at St Mary-le-Tower Simon Rudd before kick-off.

Henley. Henley. Henley.
Ashbocking. Ashbocking.
Henley & Ashbocking

Earlier in the day though, we were pleased to join the Midweek Ringing, which today went to Henley and Ashbocking with lunch at The Sorrel Horse at Barham in between. These were recently restarted by my mother Sally, but of course in keeping with many others we are usually working when they are on. I hope therefore that those who are about on the second Tuesday of each month can support these as actually they are a very pleasant, laid back way to pass a few hours in beautiful surroundings. Even with numbers low in keeping with other ringing events and practices at this time of year due to people being away on holiday, there was something for most today. David - a learner from Hadleigh - was able to hone his Plain Hunt on five and seven, whilst there was also Stedman Triples and Cambridge Surprise Major on the 8cwt eight in the morning and St Clement's College Bob and Cambridge Surprise Minor on the 10cwt six in the afternoon. Please look out on What's On for the destinations for next month and do go along if you can.

It should be more satisfying than going to the football.

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Monday 8th August 2022

Orford.I've often said that in my humble opinion that the best view from a ringing chamber in Suffolk is from the tenor box at Woodbridge, but the back bells at Orford push it close with its west window looking out at the castle. That is currently covered in scaffolding so isn't at its best, but I still enjoyed the view over 2hr 56min as I rang the seventh to a peal of six Surprise Major methods spliced, the latest peal organised for my sons' birthdays. On this occasion it was for Joshua's sixth birthday last month, with holidays, packed weekends and bad planning on my part preventing me from organising it closer to his big day, although the added bonus was that it is close enough to the tenth anniversary of his parents' wedding to include that in the footnote! Thank you to the band for coming out on such a hot day and to Orford for the use of their bells.

Also lovely was seeing the number of people popping in to watch from down below and even more so to hear the positive comments from many members of the public between descending the stairs afterwards to reaching The King's Head for a much needed post-peal drink. Nice as well to meet a ringer called John beforehand, who is holidaying in the area and who we hope also enjoyed listening to us.

Meanwhile, congratulations to former Guild Peal Secretary Alan Mayle on fifty years since his first quarter-peal, which he marked with a QP in hand in Bury St Edmunds as part of the county's burgeoning handbell scene.

I did some more ringing as our time off work continues, going to St Mary-le-Tower later in the day. As the absence of us and other Rambling Ringers last week showed, it is that time of year when attendances in ringing chambers can be quite unpredictable and indeed, although I and others returned on another hot evening, there were further absentees, including Ringing Master David Potts tonight. Jonathan Williamson filled in, doing well to fashion a productive session from relatively low numbers. His wife Sue rang the 34cwt tenor for the first time, Abby Antrobus rang inside to half a course of Cambridge Surprise Royal, David Lugg rang pieces of Grandsire Cinques and Plain & Little Bob Cinques spliced inside and Richard Weeks called a touch of Erin Triples on the back eight, amongst other achievements.

With a high alcohol intake last week, Ruthie and I are reducing our beer intake for the next few days, so even if I hadn't already had a pint post-peal earlier in the day I had had in mind to have a soft drink at the Halberd Inn after practice and so I was still able to join my fellow ringers for a convivial drink.

The view from there wasn't as good as from the ringing chambers of Woodbridge and Orford though!

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Sunday 7th August 2022

We left before the end of the proceedings last night, but it was still a very late one for the boys at the end of a week of late nights and so it was always going to be a big ask to get them to service ringing at Pettistree this morning. Instead, Ruthie went along and swapped cars back with her mother after we had used her car on Rambling Ringers so that we could use the trailer.   She later returned so we could all go to St Mary-the-Virgin's church in Woodbridge for the service and so I could join the ringing beforehand, but as we waited it gave me the opportunity to catch-up on the things that I had missed whilst we were away. That included the last couple of editions of The Ringing World, with the 29th July issue seeing mention of our peal of Dolphin Bob Major at Felixstowe to mark BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Lesley Dolphin's retirement in 'What's Hot on BellBoard', whilst in the latest copy Huntingfield Little Bob Doubles is the focus of an interesting article by Past Guild Chairman Philip Gorrod, an appropriately timed piece on the seventieth anniversary of Rambling Ringers by Society Ringing Master Chris Woodcock appears and unusually my first read of Simon Linford's latest blog entry came via its pages, which went live on the CCCBR website during the week whilst we had no internet access.

After our morning in church, the holiday vibes continued as we headed to Framlingham to join mother-in-law Kate, the boys' grandad Ron, my wife's sister Clare, her girls and other half Chris. First for a meal outside The Castle Inn, before we then went on to the castle itself for a knights' tournament that the children in particular got very into watching!

Cowlinge. Redgrave.
Cowlinge & Redgrave

On the way in, I was delighted to be greeted by former St Mary-le-Tower ringer Sean Antonioli, who I was chuffed to have played a small part in teaching and whose first peal I was privileged to conduct a decade ago, before work, family and life understandably saw him drift from the art. He and his family were about to leave having been there since ten this morning, but we had a good catch-up, with maybe a visit from him to his old ringing stomping ground on the cards to say hello, even if we can't entice him back to the art. Yet!
Whilst we were watching knights battling it out and jesters performing, there were a couple of quarter-peals being rung in the county, and notable ones at that. Happy 80th Birthday to Cowlinge Tower Captain David Wedgwood, which - along with the 25th birthday of fellow local ringer Matthew Crysell - was celebrated with a 1260 of Plain Bob & Grandsire Doubles at his home tower. Meanwhile at Redgrave, well done to Chris Davies on ringing his first of Treble Bob in the 1296 of Netherseale Surprise Minor.

I'm glad they could do a better job of getting up for their ringing than our household!

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Saturday 6th August 2022

The first Rambling Ringers Tour for three years came to a conclusion today. Usually a fortnight long event, it was reduced to a week this time as an experience that would've broken multiple laws up until last year tentatively returned. For those of us who only tend to join for the first week, it hasn't made any difference, though for those who come along for both weeks it is disappointing, and others feel it is maybe even a dangerous precedent of "accepting decline".

Either way, this has been - in my humble opinion - an extremely successful return. There were none of the new methods that Ringing Masters have traditionally thrown in to spice things up, with Chris Woodcock wisely choosing to break us all back in gently, but the repertoire was still wide and varied from Doubles to Royal. Whilst the generally accepted prerequisite for joining is to be able to ring at least Cambridge Surprise Minor, when ringing lots of other people's bells ultimately striking is most important and so there has been Plain Bob and Grandsire, but to help stave off the fatigue that can creep in when ringing at several towers day after day, there also has to be plenty to get one thinking, such as the many different Minor methods and things like variable tenor Stedman Triples and Bristol Surprise Major spliced with Double Norwich Court Bob and Stedman. Importantly though, the numbers have been healthy. I was worried that in keeping with many towers up and down the country, we would've lost a significant number of members over the pandemic for various reasons that bands will be familiar with. However, although the Ringing Master was unable to join us for most of the week and of course we dearly missed my Dad Alan as well as Cornwall ringer and Society Ringing Master from 1973-1976 Richard Dorrington on what was the first Tour since they died, pretty much all the regulars pre-2020 returned plus many returnees and a huge number of children that reminded me of the lively young family-orientated organisation that I pretty much instantly enjoyed when we as a family first joined in 1994. God willing it bodes well for the future.

We have also immensely enjoyed the social side this year and hope that we can find a similar, laid-back campsite that would allow us to pitch up with our fellow Ramblers and enjoy evenings under the stars spotting satellites and having a drink and a laugh. It has complimented the ringing perfectly for us.

For all that though, and that we had fully intended to do some ringing on our way back home, we didn't make any of it today, nor the Tour Meeting that decided the intended destination for the next Tour, which despite our absence we learnt almost immediately through the magic of social media is due to be Dorset, a destination we've been keen to go to for a long time.

In part that was because getting the pegs out of the hard, stony ground at the campsite was as much of a struggle as getting them in a week ago had been, particularly one troublesome culprit that ultimately needed us to pour two bottles of water on the ground around it and dig a not unsubstantial hole to eventually free it from the parched, solid Leicestershire soil. Also though, with a trailer in tow, we had a deadline to make, as we had been invited to the wedding of Ruthie's work colleague Hannah this afternoon and so we needed to get back, drop Mason off at his Mum's wash and make ourselves look respectable, which meant that I had to shave, which following conversations this week I'm sure will be received with pleasure by Paul de Kok! All by 3.30pm.

Wedding reception with Hemingstone church in the middle distance. Ironically after sleeping, eating and socialising in a field for week, this wedding was also in a field, as was the reception, which was the bit we were invited to. Apart from the marque, toilets and bouncy castle set up for the occasion, from this isolated field of stubble there was just glorious rolling countryside, woodlands, the odd cottage and Hemingstone's St Gregory's church where a three with two bells dating back to 1480 hang. It was a beautiful setting and although not a ringing related event and no ringers - apart from ourselves - in sight, there was a wonderful link to a lovely recent ringing performance. On 19th June, I was delighted to be part of Sunday ringing at Woodbridge which at the request of her family was also dedicated to Grace Sidey, who along with her brothers Jim & John Jennings was a ringer. In a coincidence that Ruthie only discovered since, her work colleague Sarah is Grace's granddaughter and she was a guest this afternoon and she was keen to impart that she had listened outside and was deeply appreciative. Naturally complaints about bells draw more attention and sometimes make even me wary that we might be causing a nuisance, but this was a reminder that what we do is enjoyed and appreciated by many.

Hopefully the residents of Brandeston and Debenham were also appreciative of the quarter-peal and the peal respectively that were rung at these venues. Congratulations to Immediate Past Suffolk Guild Ringing Master Tom Scase on circling his home tower to peals in the latter, but (with all due respect to Tom!), many more congratulations to Chris Oswald on ringing his first QP in the former, ringing it to celebrate his daughter Lucy's wedding to boot! Hopefully it is the first of many. The quarter that is, not the wedding!

And hopefully this Rambling Ringers Tour is the first of many more post-restrictions.

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Friday 5th August 2022

Sapcote is a venue that is quite significant in Rambling Ringers circles. The ten in Leicestershire was where Society stalwarts Michael & Kathleen Brown rang and where their daughter Janet and Secretary of eighteen years learnt to ring. It felt very special to ring here today then, as the Tour visited this morning.

Sue on the simulator at The Harecroft Ring. The bells of The Harecroft Ring. Ringing on The Harecroft Ring. Ringing on The Harecroft Ring. Ringing on The Harecroft Ring.
The Harecroft Ring

It also seemed appropriate therefore to head to the farm nearby where Michael spent all his life and where The Harecroft Ring is still housed in one of the outbuildings. This is 12lb 2oz private ring, alongside a training bell which had come from Dordrecht in the Netherlands and helped many of the de Kok family to handle, and a simulator. Youngster Finley, former Ipswich St Margaret's ringer Sue McCouaig and Paul de Kok all had creditable efforts on the latter, but most memorably for us, both Alfie and Joshua had a go on the former (although Mason was a typical teenager and declined!), which was nice for their Nanna Sally particularly. And on the actual octave that was an unscheduled stop over lunch, the ringing included a very decent three leads of Bristol Surprise Major.

Sharnford. Sharnford. Ringing at Stoney Stanton. Ringing at Stoney Stanton. Ringing at Thurlaston. Football at Thurlaston!
Sharnford, Stoney Stanton & Thurlaston

Earlier in the morning, we didn't make the first tower of Claybrooke Parva, but I did call a well rung touch of London Surprise Minor at Sharnford and after grabbing a moment to eat our sandwiches at the back of the church after a wedding, we rang on the ground-floor eight of Stoney Stanton, the village that my mother is staying in this week before the park and goalposts adjoining the churchyard at the next tower of Thurlaston proved too much of a temptation for the young and the not as young football fans amongst us, once we'd had a ring, which for me was a course of Norwich Surprise Minor as my eclectic week of methods continued.

Our day of ringing was rounded off by a touch of Stedman Triples and a catch-up with local ringer and one-time Rambler Terry Astill at the 11cwt eight of Earl Shilton, before we returned to the campsite for one final - late - night at the campsite, though not as late as some!

Meanwhile, back in the county we intend to return to tomorrow, the FNQPC celebrated the forty-fourth wedding anniversary of Podge & South-East District Secretary Liz Christian with a 1260 of St Clement's College Bob Minor at Earl Stonham.

God willing we will be back soon to ring at such places, but for now, it was lovely to be in Leicestershire ringing at Sapcote.

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Thursday 4th August 2022

Typically on the Rambling Ringers Tour, the running of towers is shared out, thus relieving the Ringing Master from having to run everything, especially this year with Chris Woodcock unable to be with us most of the week. In his absence, Oxfordshire ringer Tony Crabtree has done magnificently in carrying out the role, including dishing out the towers to those willing to run one.

Ringing at the 8 of Broughton Astley in its large ringing chamber.This morning was my turn. If in a small enclosed ringing chamber, restricted to whoever is the room at the time, it can be hard work, but today I was fortunate to run things at Broughton Astley, an 18cwt eight run from a large gallery ringing chamber further extended out into the church, leaving plenty of room for members to gather upstairs, as well as downstairs where I could also communicate easily with them. Therefore, I was able create a session I hope was useful to all, from Plain Bob Major to Cambridge Surprise Major for young Finley to spliced Bristol Surprise & Double Norwich Court Bob Major.

Ringing at Willoughby Waterleys with Mum ringing the treble.It was a more expansive ringing experience for Ruthie and myself than the tower before it, Willoughby Waterleys, where we just made it time for me to call a 60 of Grandsire Doubles on the 6cwt five having missed the first tower of the day (quelle surprise!) of Peatling Parva. "Why do all the villages round here have such unnecessarily long names?" my wife enquired as we traversed south-west Leicestershire.

The gallery ring at Leire. The ground-floor 6 at Kimcote.
Leire & Kimcote

Another churchyard picnic with our fellow Ramblers was enjoyed at Leire at lunchtime before ringing on the gallery ring six, before we moved onto Kimcote, a ground-floor six where Newcastle Surprise Minor was rung, but where I rang in some Carlisle.

Ringing in the ground-floor 8 of Gilmorton. Article on wall of Gilmorton ringing chamber featuring Alan Moult. Pealboard at Gilmorton featuring Alan Moult.

There were even more highlights at the next ring of bells, Gilmorton, both of the ringing and non-ringing variety. A touch of variable cover Stedman Triples was so much fun that even Ruthie professed to enjoying it, though don't tell anyone! However, it was the free ice cream brought by my mother Sally's schoolfriend Sheila - whose family firm Ringswood make the tasty treat - that caught members' attention! Personally, it was lovely to see Sheila again, but also my Mum's sister Aunty Carol who lives locally and joined us. Additionally, it seems Woolpit ringer Alan Moult was heavily involved in the rehang of this eight in 2013, with him featuring in an article about it pinned to the wall and the pealboard for the first peal on the rehung bells which he rung the treble to just above it.

Following our ringing at the next - and final - tower of the day at Arnesby, it was time for something that has become a tradition on RR, as we made the short trip to the edge of the village to Little India for the annual Tour curry. And a fantastic occasion it was too, with even Alfie and Joshua trying a little bit, although I can't deny their tea tonight was primarily poppadoms, rice and naan bread until they tucked into some ice cream afterwards!

Even after returning back to the campsite, there was time for the boys to play football with the Riley brothers, but after a late and noisy night yesterday that led to a few tired ringers today, it was generally a lot quieter night tonight. Which should make life a bit easier for whoever is due to run towers tomorrow!

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Wednesday 3rd August 2022

Happy 94th birthday to Helen Price, an ever cheery presence in Suffolk's ringing chambers with her husband Don for many years, especially at their local towers of Reydon and Southwold. The impressive landmark was celebrated with two quarter-peals in the county today, with a 1280 of the 'standard' eight Surprise Major methods spliced at Elveden and the pre-practice QP at Pettistree. Along with the 1260 of Grandsire Triples on The Millbeck Ring in Shelland, it was a busy day of ringing within our borders.

Wistow church viewed from the Maze. The model village at Wistow.

Not for us though, as we were neither within our borders or ringing as we took another day off the seventieth Rambling Ringers Tour for the boys, this time to go round Wistow Maze, next door to the 6cwt ground-floor six we rang at yesterday. Teamwork got the family round the Platinum Jubilee themed maze and importantly the quiz questions on route in a fun hour-and-a-half in the sun, topped by ice cream and a wander round the model village on the opposite side of the road but still part of the attraction.

We did hear some ringing though, as some Ramblers did an additional bit of tower grabbing on the three at Catthorpe before walking to the five of Lilbourne, a short walk away but actually in Northamptonshire. As I washed up in glorious sunshine, with the occasional tractor driving past and the boys playing football, I even almost enjoyed listening to the sound of the trio of bells at St Thomas just across the road. Not as much as I did Mason, Alfie and myself joining them for a drink in the local pub The Cherry Tree though!

Enjoyable, but not as busy as ringers in the 'homeland'. Happy Birthday Helen!

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Tuesday 2nd August 2022

After our day off yesterday, it was back to ringing today and although we returned to form by not making the first tower of the day at South Wigston, we otherwise enjoyed a full day of the exercise at a variety of towers.

Ringing at Countesthorpe. Ringing at Countesthorpe. Picnic outside Wistow church. Ringing at Wistow.
Countesthorpe & Wistow

First up for us was Whetstone, a nice eight rung from a tidy, welcoming ringing chamber and having rung Lincolnshire Surprise Major there, I then rang in a course of its eighths place version (where a bell makes eighths at the leadend instead of seconds) Counteshorpe at its namesake tower afterwards, before we moved on to Wistow. Despite having lunch outside the previous tower, we were delighted to sit with the sizeable number of Ramblers outside here during the actual lunch break, whilst children played games and one member did a spot of geocaching.

Table football at Great Glen. The ladder at Wigston Magna from below. The ladder at Wigston Magna from the top. Ringing at Wigston Magna.
Great Glen & Wigston Magna

Pleasant as that was, a pleasure of a different kind was soon underway as we went inside to ring on the nice 6cwt ground-floor six which was entered via a flower arch and gave me the chance to ring pieces of Chester & Ipswich Surprise Minor on easy going bells. There was nothing quite so easy-going at the next tower of Great Glen, mainly because first we had to move a table football table out of the ground-floor ringing chamber where this 9cwt eight are rung from, but at least that gave the bigger children something to play with whilst some of us even bigger children rang some Stedman Triples & Bristol Surprise Major spliced. And at least the entry was less vertigo-inducing than the tall open wooden staircase at the next and final tower of the day, Wigston Magna!

Once back at the campsite though, we were greeted by high winds and collapsed walls on our tent, an unwelcome sight which necessitated some more frantic hammering in of pegs before we could eventually enjoy tea and then kick back and relax with our neighbours, including the de Kok's and Riley's after they had returned from a meal out. It was a satisfying way to finish a return to ringing today.

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Monday 1st August 2022

Deimos & Phobos. Deimos, Orion and Phobos were very much in evidence today.

The view from the top of the Rocket Tower. No, the Rambling Ringers haven't expanded their repertoire, good as they are on six and eight. Rather, we were at the National Space Centre in Leicester, a fascinating place that is a real rarity of an attraction in that it offered something for all the family - young boys, teenagers, mother and aging father alike! A half-hour film in the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium about the moon landings had all of us captivated, whilst the quiz trail kept Alfie and Joshua interested, and Mason was also enthralled with the shear amount of information and the way it was put across, as were Ruthie and I. Although one or two of our party were less keen on the vertigo inducing lift up the side of the Thor Able rocket in the Rocket Tower!

It was the main focus of one of a couple of non-ringing days that we try to put aside for the boys whilst on the Tour, but with being on the campsite we were able to catch up on the day's ringing on another social evening, this time with the visit of Society Ringing Master Chris Woodcock, amongst others. Chris has been very unwell lately and so has been unable to fully join the Tour, but did come along to watch and listen today as members returned to Northamptonshire for ringing at East Farndon, Great Oxendon, Arthingworth, Rothwell, Great Oakley and Desborough, before coming back to Manor Farm. Sad as it is that he can't be fully with us this week, it was great to see him.

Back in Suffolk meanwhile, a brace of quarters in hand were rung in Bury St Edmunds, one of Kent Treble Bob Major, the other of Plain Bob Major and was the first QP on the bells. Good to see even more being done by our handbell stars...

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Sunday 31st July 2022

A familiar theme of Rambling Ringers tours are us not making the first tower of the day. It's years since I kept my tower records updated and I'm not sure Ruthie ever has, so we're not desperate for ticks and with little boys staying up later than they usually would, and more faff involved with getting up when on a campsite sharing bathrooms and toilets with many other families on the other side of a field, we gave up getting stressed about making the opening ringing of a day that will typically see six or seven towers rung at. And, after all, we are on holiday!

Today though, on our first day of ringing participation on the seventieth Tour, we did make the first tower. Only just though! Ringing at Kibworth Beauchamp was for a 10.30am service, so we had a very definite cut-off point, increasing the likelihood that we wouldn't make it in time, but having set off for the area where the towers of today were planned to be anyway and realised we might just make it, we made an effort to get to this 10cwt eight, dashing across the churchyard with children in tow, past a gathering congregation and very welcoming vicar and up the ladder to ring down. It was brief, but we were satisfied to have got up and running.

Ringing at Saddington. Searching for the key at Foxton. From here, the day was at a more sedate pace, although still pleasingly busy. After ringing at Saddington, we spent a pleasant lunchbreak (bar a brief trip to nearby Market Harborough for some essentials) between The Black Horse in Foxton and St Andrew's church, our next destination, although unfortunately our ringing there didn't quite go to plan! Joshua managed to set the alarm off in the toilet having pulled a cord that he thought was the light switch, which triggered a mixture of alarm and amusement. Having got over that, there was then an extensive search for the ringing chamber key led by Society Secretary Geoff Pick that saw dozens of ringers and children looking throughout the building and once we were in, the second piece of ringing - with young Finley Kemp mastering the second to Cambridge Surprise Minor superbly - saw the fifth clapper drop out. Luckily, we had a bellhanger in our midst and within minutes Andrew Mills had put it back in and ringing continued without further incident!

On the plus side though, the ringing chamber of this ground-floor six also saw the arrival of Alex Riley, fresh from judging the recent National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final in Guildford (as well as the eliminator at The Norman Tower in March), adding to former judge from the world's biggest striking competition Andrew Mills and four competitors from this year's final in the form of Liz & Stuart Hutchieson and ourselves. If there was a better twelve-bell ringing scene in Manila where Dutch ringer Harm Jan de Kok is currently based, I dare say he too may have been a participant!

Ringing at Great Bowden. Harm Jan, Alex & Stuart later knocked off a handbell quarter-peal behind the Riley's tent at the campsite whilst the rest of us chatted nearby with drink, occasionally catching a waft of excellent ringing, but before that we completed an afternoon's ringing with a course of London Surprise Minor at Great Bowden, once we had let a passing flock of sheep through! We left our fellow Ramblers to go on to Lubenham as we wanted to get tea sorted and travel out to the Chequers in the neighbouring village (though on the other side of the now expansive A14/M1/M6 junction) to watch an historic event unfold on the TV. We - and particularly Alfie - have been enthralled by the Women's Euros over the last few weeks, which culminated this evening in the Final being played at Wembley between England and Germany. Along with a pub full of families in a super atmosphere, we followed the twists and turns of a match that went to extra time and climaxed with a winning goal ten minutes from the end to give English football its first major senior trophy since 1966. Well done Lionesses!

Meanwhile, back in Suffolk, a quarter-peal at Pettistree was dedicated to the departure of Louise and Stewart who have been running The Greyhound next door for several years and have not only been extremely welcoming to the ringers, but become good friends.

I expect there were a few drinks there this evening, as there were at Manor Farm Campsite as much socialising was done. I wouldn't be hopeful of making the first tower tomorrow morning!

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Saturday 30th July 2022

It's been a long time since the Rambling Ringers gathered in the Norfolk village of Intwood for the Tour Meeting to collectively vote for Leicestershire as the planned destination of the next tour. Three years in fact, but today the seventieth Tour finally got underway in the heart of the country, ironically in the Northamptonshire towers of Sibbertoft, Clipston, Haselbech, Cold Ashby and Welford.

Help from our fellow Ramblers on site! Perhaps also ironically, having anticipated getting back on Tour for so long, we didn't make any of the ringing today. In part that was due to wanting to take the boys to their usual Saturday morning football session, but also because we had very kindly been leant a bigger tent and equipment by the boys' Grandad Ron, along with a trailer, which whilst useful, also meant that our speed in getting there was reduced and therefore the journey longer in time. Even with the fully completed upgrade to the A14 and its junctions with the A1, M1 & M6, which meant that from getting on at the Seven Hills junction south-east of Ipswich we didn't need to turn off until just round the corner of our campsite at Catthorpe right where Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire meet. And once at Manor Farm Campsite, putting the tent up took a lot longer than expected, with the land hardened after the hot, largely dry spell of recent weeks and construction issues of various bits of furniture, although there was help on hand from our fellow Ramblers once they had returned from their day's ringing!

That delay caused much stress (especially from Ruthie!) and my mother having to make a detour to drop Mason off after he had travelled out with her today, but eventually everything was constructed, drinks and food purchased from a Tesco Express in nearby Brownsover and friendships renewed, with our tent pitched alongside those of other camping ringers as we ate, drank and chatted into the night and generally enjoyed ourselves. We've waited a long time for this.

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Friday 29th July 2022

Continuing a theme of this week by watching another bit of childhood (and student) television come to an end as I watched the last ever episode of Neighbours (Charlene, Scott, et al) was basically our evening, although we did have a nice chat with Julian Colman in Simon Rudd's weekly virtual pub, with the host popping in briefly from a village fete and another from a restaurant on the Broads.

Tostock.Elsewhere though, others in Suffolk were ringing. Well done to Guild PR Officer Neal Dodge on ringing his first quarter-peal of Berwick Surprise Minor in the 1272 at Tostock, hopefully treating their good neighbours...

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Thursday 28th July 2022

End of eras and exciting beginnings were on my mind today.

I was saddened to hear of the death of actor Bernard Cribbins, who along with the recent death of Frank Williams who played the vicar in Dad's Army is another warm, fuzzy part of my televisual childhood gone, with the former also a part of my children's televisual childhood.

Closer to home though, this afternoon was Lesley Dolphin's last show on BBC Radio Suffolk as she retired following forty years of radio broadcasting. With our peal of Dolphin Bob Major at Felixstowe on Sunday rung in honour of the occasion, along with interviews with Lesley herself on Tuesday and her colleague Sarah Lilley on Saturday about it, I have spoken at length on this blog about her contribution to supporting and promoting Suffolk ringing and even her learning to ring (a picture from which - at Hollesley - is one of the many that she has shared on her Facebook profile in recent days), and I know current Guild PR Officer Neal Dodge has also been grateful to her. As if to back this up though, even during four hours where so many highlights, subjects and organisations were crammed into the special broadcast from Wherstead Park, ringing still got mentions. The Revd Michael Eden of St Peter and St Mary prompts reference to the project to augment the eight to a ten there 2hr 12min 43sec in, although I have to admit my heart sunk (I can't imagine how the local ringers feel) a little to hear that they aren't due back until January, almost exactly three years since they were removed from the tower. And Oakley ringer Claire Whiting - who is better known to many listeners as Claire Horne, one of the station's gardening experts - speaks of her membership of the Suffolk Guild and presents the star of the show with some bells just after 2hr 25min 40sec after the start.

St Martin. Perry Bar.Across in Birmingham meanwhile, the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony kicked off the 2022 event, with the accompanying footage before and during featuring numerous shots of St Martin's-in-the-Bullring, where the UK's only ring of sixteen is hung and which was once almost a second home to me, as well as being the location for a suitable length of Stedman Cinques rung today to accompany the quarter-peal rung yesterday at Perry Barr a few hundred yards from Alexander Park.

Also looking ahead, August looks like it may be a quiet month for District and Guild events. However, according to What's On (a printable version of which has also been emailed to members), there is still stuff going on, all being well. The South-East District plan on holding their usual first Saturday monthly practice at Felixstowe from 10.30am-noon and rather cleverly highlight how you could also double up your trip with a day at the seaside! On Tuesday 9th August, Midweek Ringing is due to take place further inland at Henley and Ashbocking either side of a meal at The Sorrel Horse in Barham. My mother Sally has put a lot of work in getting these up and running again, so I hope plenty will support it if they can, especially at this time of year when holidays make numbers more unpredictable. If you wish to eat, then let Stephen Christian know your meal choices know at least a week beforehand. Four days later, the North-East District intend to go to the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre in Norwich. And the following Saturday I would encourage members to consider going to the MRDC for the Learning the Ropes Festival.

Horringer.There was ringing going on in the here and now as well though, with a 1280 of Yorkshire Surprise Major rung at Horringer, but there was no ringing for us, either to mark end of eras or exciting beginnings.

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Wednesday 27th July 2022

Work and football training caught up with our household this evening, and along with needing to feed ourselves it meant that we ran out of time to get to Pettistree practice, leading to a rare Wednesday without ringing for us.

Southwold. Elsewhere in the Guild, I'm pleased to report it was another day and another peal for the SGR. This time it was a wonderfully fitting 5184 of Carpenter's End Delight Major rung at Southwold, the first in the method named after the home that local ringer Don Price shared with his wife Helen. It was of course rung in memory of Don, who died in May after decades of service to Suffolk ringing and decades more before that to the exercise generally, quite spectacularly so.

I'm sorry that circumstances didn't allow us to join in today with the art he served with such distinction.

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Tuesday 26th July 2022

Wingfield.I may be the only one who is bothered about the Suffolk Guild ringing its 10,000th peal before the end of its centenary year in 2023 in what I have dubbed 'Project 10,000', but nonetheless members are doing their bit to not just reach this target, but smash it. If we are to notch up number 10,000 by 31st December next year, we needed to ring just under six peals a month in the SGR's name from the start of this year. That would mean we would have needed to have rung forty-two by the end of July. Today's 5040 at Wingfield - the second Tom Scase production in two days and apparently part of a mini peal-week - was number fifty-four of 2022 for the Guild. Impressively, that is where we'd need to be by the end of September to keep 'Project 10,000' on course, is more than we'd rung by this date in the last comparable year of 2019 and the eleventh most peals by any ringing organisation this year.

Offton.Quarter-peals aren't to be forgotten though. Well done to Mark Ingledew on ringing his first of five Surprise Major methods spliced in the 1280 at Offton that preceded the practice on the 8cwt ground-floor eight and was the 217th QP on real bells on Suffolk soil this year, which is not too far behind the normal numbers for this point of the calendar.

Felixstowe. Rainbow over Portman Road. Although I was on BBC Radio Suffolk 2hr 2min into Lesley Dolphin's afternoon show talking about our peal at Felixstowe (keep liking!) and thanking her for her support and promotion of Suffolk ringing, we weren't doing any actual ringing, as instead the boys and I were back at Portman Road for the second day running, this time with Ruthie and her mother Kate, as well as her sister Clare and her girls and other half Chris for Ipswich Town's last friendly before the start of the 2022/23 season. It was a good night, with the Tractor Boys winning 3-1 against Southend United under a rainbow, having a chat with St Mary-le-Tower vicar Tom Mumford and his wife and fellow vicar Laura on the walk back to the car and even getting home in time to see England's women footballers winning through to the final of Euro 2022.

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Monday 25th July 2022

It was a day of treats for the boys and me.

Most of it was spent at Portman Road, five days before the start of the men's new football season, for the Ipswich Town Open Day.

For footy mad Alfie in particular, the opportunity to get up close to some of his footballing heroes - especially his current favourite Wes Burns - was beyond exciting. Imagine his disappointment (and mine) then, when having joined the queue for autographs that was already going round most of the outside of the stadium and up towards the railway station, we were then informed that it was extremely unlikely that we'd get to the front before the players had finished signing.

George Edmundson and Luke Woolfenden signing autographs at the Ipswich Town Open Day. The players training at the Ipswich Town Open Day. The queue for autographs at the Ipswich Town Open Day.
Ipswich Town Open Day

That mood wasn't helped by the unexpected downpour that would otherwise have been welcomed if we weren't stood in the middle of a field playing mini-golf, but was soon lifted by seeing some of the boys' friends, a cookie each and a photo with & autograph from former ITFC & England captain Terry Butcher. From there the boys (with a little help from me) tried their hand at a basketball variety of Connect 4, before we then went into the ground itself to watch the players train, whilst we had some lunch. And then the moment that made the boys' (and therefore my) day, as one by one some of the team came over to sign autographs, including Welsh international Burns, much to the unbridled joy of Alfred especially! To top it off, there were new kits waiting for them at the club shop as very kindly ordered by their Granny. A real treat indeed.

St Mary-le-Tower. The treats continued for me later as I went to another warm practice night (even warmer than last week according to the thermometer on the table in the centre of the ringing chamber!) at St Mary-le-Tower, where in the absence tonight of Ringing Master David Potts, Past Guild Ringing Master Amanda Richmond ran a session that incorporated much for the learners to ring in and treble to, right up to pieces of Cambridge & Yorkshire Surprise Royal and Stedman Cinques, before we retired to the beer garden of the Halberd Inn for much needed refreshment.

Amongst the twenty-plus crowd at ringing this evening was SGR Chairman Rowan Wilson, who had earlier used her much appreciated fan at another peal. This time it was for the first Guild Peal in Norfolk for five years, albeit literally just over the border at Scole. Given the closeness of the counties both in terms of geography and between members of both, historically there has regularly been peals rung in our name on the other side of the River Waveney, so after what has been a long period of time since the last one, it is good to see us using some of the rings of bells on neighbouring soil.

Hopefully the 5040 of five Minor methods in 2hr 20min was a treat for the band too.

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Sunday 24th July 2022

Mad dogs and Englishman, as the saying goes.

Although not quite at the record busting temperatures of a few days ago, it was still very hot at midday today and eight English ringers found themselves in a space the size of most living rooms about to embark on a peal attempt. Not that that was the intention when I first began arranging this effort at Felixstowe for BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Lesley Dolphin, who is due to retire from the station on Thursday. The plan had been to ring from 2pm. Still a hot part of the day, but at least temperatures would be beginning to tail off.

However, the moving of the civic service for the Mayor Sharon Harkin - unexpected to the tower correspondent Jacky Savage - to 3pm complicated things. I didn't really want to move it somewhere else, as the venue had been chosen as the seaside resort is Lesley's town of residence. With yesterday being the George Pipe thanksgiving event, there was no option to bring it forward a day either. With ringers committed to Sunday ringing and services at their home towers throughout the morning, and afterwards difficult to plan due to not knowing precisely when such a service would end, the only realistic slot we could fit the attempt in was from noon until 3pm.

Felixstowe. Therefore, there we were in the hottest part of one of the hottest days of the year, about to exert ourselves for the best part of three hours. As it happened though, with the ringing chamber kept nice and cool for us by Jacky, a nice sea breeze coming in and the use of SGR Chairman Rowan Wilson's fan, it wasn't actually as bad as I feared, allowing us to get on with making a good job of ringing our unfamiliar method, a deceptively simple but musical construction. Essentially, it is Plain Bob Major above the treble, and then wrong hunting (so leading back and then hand rather than the more familiar and common hand and back) below, facilitated by an extra place below just before or after passing the treble, sevenths at the half-lead and three blows leading after making seconds at the lead-end, although that offered up potential tripping points. Normally I'm not a fan of more than two blows in one place, but I couldn't deny that it allowed for some nice music on this occasion. After discussion, we thought naming it Lesley Dolphin Bob Major may make it a bit of a mouthful and may put off others wanting to ring it in the future and so we plumped for Dolphin Bob Major and hope that others may want to enjoy its music. Thank you to Stephen for not only finding it, but conducting it. Indeed, thank you to all the band on coming out in such difficult conditions. By the end of the day it was climbing the BellBoard 'leaderboard', collecting twenty-four 'likes'. We'd always be delighted with more likes though, especially for such a good cause and great publicity for local ringing. We didn't see Lesley herself, but she messaged me afterwards to say she had recorded some of it and lining up another potential interview on the radio on Tuesday.

Woodbridge.After lowering the bells, we went to the Mariners in Trimley St Mary - directly opposite the churches of St Mary and St Martin which both sit in the same churchyard - for what felt like a well earned drink, before I left some of them tucking into massive roast beef dinners to be reunited with my family whom I had left at St Mary-the-Virgin church in Woodbridge having been to the morning worship and rung the bells beforehand.

The Norman Tower. Henley.Ours was not the only ringing within our borders though. Well done to Mark Ingledew on ringing his first quarter-peal on ten in the 1259 of Grandsire Caters at The Norman Tower, but condolences to Sproughton ringer Simon Curl on the death of his mother Brenda, who was remembered with the 1320 of Cambridge Surprise Minor at Henley, the village where Brenda lived and tower that Simon learnt to ring at. Pleasing to see Simon was ringing today.

Our day finished quietly considering how busy the rest of it was, as we settled down to a gin. Which seemed less mad, even if it was very English!

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Saturday 23rd July 2022

Much has been said about George Pipe since he died on 3rd March 2020. There has been much ringing for him and even a biography of his life, a superb one at that. However, the tragic timing of events immediately after his death meant that this giant of a man in every sense and a much loved and respected character was deprived of the grand send-off he deserved. Instead of hundreds of people from across the world of freemasonry, the church, ringing and generally packed into his beloved St Mary-le-Tower for his funeral, with the twelve ringing out, he was bade farewell with just a handful of close family members, the famous tower stood silent. From that sad situation onwards, it was always the intention to hold an event to celebrate his life and today, almost two and a half years after his death, that moment came.

St Mary-le-Tower. St Clement. St Margaret. St Matthew.
St Mary-le-Tower, St Clement, St Margaret & St Matthew

From far and wide, ringers, family, clergy and others gathered together at the church GWP was synonymous with for a celebration of an extraordinary life. Ringing featured centrally of course, not just on the 34cwt twelve, but also at St Clement's, St Margaret's and St Matthew's, whilst a huge spread of food was put on, along with tea, beer and wine, enjoyed by well known names from throughout the art, including the editor of The Ringing World Will Bosworth and Past Masters of the Ancient Society of College Youths, which George was a member of for most of his life. And of course his nephew David and his wife Cecelia and their boys Henry and Alfred, who I was delighted to ring with as a collective for the first time in the well rung service touch of Stedman Cinques.

Crowds at thanksgiving for George Pipe in St Mary-le-Tower. Crowds at thanksgiving for George Pipe in St Mary-le-Tower. The handbell band ringing Stedman Cinques. (taken by Ruthie)

That service was a moving one, most particularly George and Di's son Stephen and daughter Sarah, who spoke from a perspective that - for all the tributes paid by the great and good - none of us could, whilst the former vicar here and now Archdeacon of Pontefract, the Venerable Peter Townley made a wonderful tribute from the pulpit, before the service was finished with a mesmerising touch of Stedman Cinques on handbells with David Pipe on 1-2 conducting, Will Bosworth on 3-4, David Brown on 5-6, Henry Pipe on 7-8, Alfred Pipe on 9-10 and Michael Uphill on 11-12.

There weren't just well-known names from the world of ringing there of course. So many from within our borders were too. All in all, it was a fitting occasion that George would've been in his element at, as he enjoyed talking with all people. Indeed, I wondered how many times before he had mingled with and greeted the very people there in this very building, with a broad smile and firm handshake.

Having taken Alfie to football training this morning, we were regrettably too late to help get things set up, but our fellow St Mary-le-Tower ringers did a magnificent job in helping with proceedings, but of course it was Diana who was the driving force behind this and she was quite rightly recognised not just for that, but for all that she was to George, their family, and all of us.

The only downside was that with another rail strike, journeys were either more difficult or even impossible for some travelling from afar and even for us it scuppered our original plans to go in on the train and both enjoy a few drinks with friends at a leisurely pace for an unlimited period, but such enjoyment is strongly discouraged in most town centres when you dare to bring your car within a couple of miles (even when strikes severely limit any other options) and so we had to get out of the car park we'd paid a small fortune for immediately as proceedings wrapped up, which was a pity. Still a lovely day though.

It wasn't the only highlight of my day however, as ahead of our planned peal attempt tomorrow of a method we intend to name after BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Lesley Dolphin, who is due to retire on Thursday, her colleague Sarah Lilley interviewed me about 3hr 40min into her morning show, just after Coldplay's 'Paradise'. I know this as I had to listen to the last minute or two of it after being put on hold in readiness for our conversation by her colleague Connor Bennett, whilst also keeping an eye on Alf's footy skills! It seemed to go well (my son's football and the interview!), hopefully getting across what we were doing without boring the public with too much technical detail and ringing language. Although I nearly ruined it all by forgetting that today was Saturday!

I'm pretty certain George Pipe would've done better though!

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Friday 22nd July 2022

Little Cornard. Stratford St Mary. This week's edition of The Ringing World arrived with us today. In regards to Suffolk-related content, there are quarters in the columns, along with the first peal on the bells at Little Cornard that also celebrated Derek Rose's sixty years of ringing, whilst the 5040 at Stratford St Mary to celebrate Christine Knight's fifty years of peal-ringing made 'What's Hot on BellBoard?'. And just above that on p698 is an extract from this blog. Editor Will Bosworth contacted me earlier in the week to ask if he could use my entry from 14th July in this week's issue and I was very happy to allow him. I've known Will for many years and think he's done a tremendous job with a journal which in different circumstances may have run its course with the onset of the internet and social media, especially over the last couple of years with the pandemic where actual live ringing was not happening for long periods. It is interesting to see that mine is just one of three blog extracts, along with the superb The Accidental Ringer by Mary Jones of Norfolk and CCCBR President Simon Linford's typically entertaining and informative entry from Tuesday. It is all a far cry from the rough black and white copies with indistinguishable photos and reports of events from several weeks and months beforehand, that were all that were possible for a journal of its type when I first remember reading it in the late 1980s!

Felixstowe. Meanwhile, an interview is now set up with Sarah Lilley for about 9.35am tomorrow on her BBC Radio Suffolk to talk about Sunday's planned peal attempt at Felixstowe to mark her fellow presenter Lesley Dolphin's forthcoming retirement, but one ringer was already talking to Sarah on the airwaves 2hr 54min into her show this afternoon as Essex Association Ringing Master Dr Andrew Kelso - who judged the 2019 Guild Striking Competitions at Polstead and Lavenham with Brian Meads - in his role as Director at the NHS Essex & Suffolk Trust.

Ashbocking. Talking of ringing doctors, congratulations to Alex Tatlow on his delayed graduation from the University of Southampton, marked by him conducting a quarter-peal of Yorkshire Surprise Royal at St Magnus-the-Martyr in London yesterday, whilst today the FNQPC were successful with a 1320 of Norwich Surprise Minor at Ashbocking.

No ringing for us today, although as usual for a Friday we caught up with Simon Rudd and friends at his virtual pub, with one of the participants calling in from a ferry just off the Shetlands and another from France, as well as the usual destinations dotted around East Anglia.

Probably nothing likely to be repeated in The Ringing World though.

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Thursday 21st July 2022

Time off seemed to be the theme of today. Although I was still working, school is out for the summer, so the boys were at home, bar after lunch when they accompanied their mother on her afternoon off to The Cherry Tree with friends and their children at the only entirely child-friendly pub in Woodbridge, with its play area an obvious attraction for both kids and parents. Ruthie's regular choirs were taking an evening off too, which in theory meant at least one of us could've gone out ringing. However, after I have spent every night ringing this week, we felt we ought to have an evening off that too. Especially when usually one of us has to stop in to look after the children when the other goes out ringing for an evening (going out together last night was a rare treat!), having at least a night or two in together is important in terms of sharing parental duties and simply seeing each other!

An evening off ringing did also allow me to finally read CCCBR President Simon Linford's latest blog from earlier this week, which is again packed with interesting content and highlights the new website for the Central Council Roadshow which is due to take place in Nottingham on Sunday 4th September as part of the CC's AGM weekend and is open to all. Please do consider going if you are able to.

Felixstowe.Simon also speaks of an interview he had on BBC Radio Northampton 2hrs49mins28secs into Martin Heath's show on Sunday and strangely enough I am in the process of fixing up an interview on its Suffolk counterpart in regards to a peal attempt that is lined up for Sunday at Felixstowe. The intention is to ring a new method and name it after their presenter and Felixstowe resident Lesley Dolphin, who is due to retire in one week after many years on the station, including much promotion of ringing and of course learning to ring as part of the BBC East Big Skill Award in 2009! Lesley is very touched by the gesture, as demonstrated 1hr 17min 45sec into her show this afternoon and plans to come along to record some of it and although she is unable to interview me before the weekend as her show runs from Monday to Thursday these days, her colleague Sarah Lilley - who has also done her fair share of promoting ringing on the airwaves - is interested in having a chat, so watch this space!

I'm glad to say there is no time off for ringing publicity!

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Wednesday 20th July 2022

Rumburgh. Weybread. Wissett.
Rumburgh, Weybread & Wissett

It was still a hot day, but considerably cooler than yesterday, which I expect came as some relief to the band ringing a number of quarter-peals at towers in the county today as part of the project to take sound recordings of Suffolk's bells in readiness for the much anticipated centenary of the Guild next year. Three quarter-peals were rung on this occasion, all featuring Cambridge Surprise Minor with a 720 of it along with a 600 of Ipswich Surprise at Rumburgh, a 576 of it with an extent of Norwich Surprise at Weybread and on its own in a 1272 at Wissett.

Pettistree.Mary Garner and Mark Ogden then added another QP to their busy day, as they rang in the weekly attempt (with more of the method of the day!) at Pettistree ahead of a practice that both Ruthie and I came along to accompanied by the boys without the pressure of getting up early for school tomorrow. Whilst there, we were delighted to participate in a typically eclectic range from Plain Hunt on Five & Plain Bob Minor to Surprise Minor of the Ipswich & Norfolk variety and a well rung touch of spliced Minor, all topped off with a drink in the still warm garden of The Greyhound at the end of another hot day.

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Tuesday 19th July 2022

Hot, hot, hot. Really hot.

Following what was apparently the hottest night in the UK ever recorded, today temperatures reached forty degrees centigrade in this country for the first time today. Not here in Suffolk, but it was still hot enough, even for someone like me who enjoys such conditions as a general rule.

Across the country and closer to home, wildfires more akin to scorched lands in Australia were burning rapidly over fields and terrifyingly through villages in some cases, but ringing continued beyond our borders and within them. It was interesting to note that the majority of quarters and peals were on ground-floor rings, where generally things are cooler. Good to see that ringers have found a way of continuing the art in a safe way, an attitude that echoes their approach through the pandemic. We have to be aware of limitations in such dangerously high temperatures, but we also might need to get used to ringing in such conditions if they are to be more regular and longer lasting, as is being predicted.

Offton. Offton was always a lovely cool venue to be on hot evenings and so it isn't surprising that the usual pre-practice quarter-peal was still rung here, with a 1250 of Lincolnshire Surprise Major being rung on this occasion.

Ufford.I too was ringing though, with a bottle of water to hand (as I had at St Mary-le-Tower yesterday) as I helped out at Ufford at the request of the Ringing Master there and my mother-in-law Kate Eagle. A jolly good time was had with much laughter, but it was also a very productive session that saw call-changes on eight rung along with Triples of the Grandsire & Plain Bob varieties and Cambridge Surprise Minor. It was lovely to ring with Wickham Market RM Ray Lewis and John & Sonia Harriyott on their annual holiday to the area and for whom the big wildfire near Campsea Ashe was a bit too close to their campsite for comfort.

They're probably not the only ones hoping to see the end of the hot, hot, hot weather.

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Monday 18th July 2022

Personally, I enjoy hot weather. Not that I can sit out in it and I wouldn't like to be doing manual labour out there, but it is lovely to sit in the shade looking out at it and whenever you want to go outside it is nice to simply step out into it. I wouldn't like it all the time, but in my humble opinion, it is far more preferable to trying to get warm in cold weather, feeling uncomfortable in chilly winds or attempting to escape that damp sensation that seems to pervade everywhere when conditions are wet. Goodness knows we get enough of all that for the vast majority of the year. Therefore, I prefer to enjoy the high temperatures as much as possible whilst they last.

Santon Downham St Mary’s church - - 2116819 However, even I will concede that the mercury hitting forty degrees centigrade makes everyday life harder and indeed more dangerous, especially for children and other vulnerable and elderly people and so I can understand the abundance of caution being displayed for today and tomorrow with forecasts warning of the potential of the highest temperatures ever recorded on these shores, possibly even over that forty-plus threshold. It has prompted a red extreme heat warning covering mainly central England, but does include areas of west Suffolk and indeed, although the UK temperature record wasn't broken today, the hottest recorded spot in the country was within our borders, at Santon Downham, where there is just one 4cwt bell cast in 1663 by Robard Gurney of Bury St Edmunds.

St Mary-le-Tower.It all meant for considerable disruption, although I still made it to the air conditioned offices of John Catt and come this evening I went to St Mary-le-Tower's weekly practice. Understandably, some sessions were called off, including other nearby twelves at Great St Mary in Cambridge and St Peter Mancroft in Norwich, but after much discussion via the St Mary-le-Tower ringers' WhatsApp group and in Costa Coffee yesterday, it had been agreed to go ahead, albeit just on the front eight, with the concern being that the back four would be too heavy to heave around with temperatures predicted to still be around thirty degrees centigrade right up to 9pm.

As it happened, thanks to the superb efforts to enhance the natural coolness of many churches (one piece of advice had even been to go to churches to keep cool!), the temperature never went above twenty-four within the thick walls of this famous ringing chamber and so we probably could've done some ringing on the big bells relatively comfortably. Indeed, I've rung peals on them in warmer conditions. However, these are difficult temperatures for ringing in and what actually developed was an extremely useful eight-bell practice that was preceded by Plain on Hunt on four on bells two to five of the middle six with the treble and tenor 'bonging' at each end, which caused some confusion at first! There was plenty of opportunity for our learners George and Judy and a farewell ring for Anna as she comes to the end of her work placement, but also Surprise Major, culminating with an excellently rung touch of the 'standard' eight spliced. Most importantly of all in my opinion though, a lot of us came out to enjoy each other's company, something we have all grown to appreciate even more over much of the last couple of years. Nice as well to see Rushmere St Andrew ringer Claire Smith, who brought her husband James out.

The convivial atmosphere generated up the tower then continued on into the beer garden of the Halberd Inn, whilst elsewhere it was interesting to see that ringing was continuing across the country, even in these hot temperatures, presumably with lots of common sense and in places easy to keep cool - it was noticeable at St Mary-le-Tower how much cooler it was downstairs then up in the ringing chamber. Although there was less ringing than usual going on, there were still plenty of quarters and peals rung even in the hottest parts of the UK, as well as in Suffolk, albeit here it was noticeable that the ringing was all on handbells. The Cumberlands peal in Newmarket featuring some of the brightest young talents in ringing (including one-time local learner Jimmy Yeoman) was a first at the address and the first of Belvoir Delight Minor in hand, whilst a 1344 of Plain Bob Major was rung in Moats Tye to celebrate Jenny & David Everett's Golden Wedding Anniversary - congratulations Jenny & David!

Meanwhile, I had interesting correspondence with The Ringing World editor Will Bosworth that should result in something hopefully worth looking forward to in a future edition, which I hope readers will enjoy as much as I enjoy hot weather! Watch this space!

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Sunday 17th July 2022

St Mary-le-Tower.With the Towcester ringers still in town on their ringing weekend and some of them very kindly joining us at St Mary-le-Tower for service ringing this morning, we were able to ring Maximus of the Cambridge Surprise and Little Bob variety today, the latter of which I called from the treble, which is always a challenge straight after ringing the tenor! This is the beauty of ringing that you don't really get in other activities - ringer friends and strangers from afar being able to join in and contribute to local ringing.

St Lawrence.Whilst our Northamptonshire chums continued on to ring at St Lawrence on their way to ringing at other towers in Ipswich throughout the day, we made our usual visit to Costa Coffee for post-ringing refreshments, before we departed - the ancient five still ringing out - for a change to our usual Sunday morning travels.

On this occasion, Josh had been invited to a classmate's birthday party in Alderton, a two-and-a-half hour affair that we left him to whilst I occupied Alfie. Having travelled all the way out to the end of this beautiful peninsula on such a sunny day, it seemed a pity to not take advantage of the nearby attractions. Therefore, after giving Alfred his football fix at the village's recreation ground as the locals packed up after their fete yesterday, we meandered down to Bawdsey to enjoy the beach and river, before getting out of the sun to grab some lunch at the café, periodically bumping into other parents also trying to pass the time! It meant missing ringing at Grundisburgh, but it was a joy for Joshua to have such a lovely time with his friends and lovely to spend some time with Alf.

After a complimentary drink at the party when I picked the youngest son up, complete with water balloons won in pass the parcel, we made our way home, where we were reunited with a surprisingly chirpy Ruthie full of tales of fun in Norwich. Having not been able to celebrate her birthday yesterday, her return marked the true beginnings of the celebrations as she opened presents and we then went to her mother Kate's for a BBQ, beer and a fantastic butterbeer cake for this Harry Potter fan! Thank you Kate and Ron!

Judging by the lack of quarters or peals from Suffolk on BellBoard (although the ringing at Woodbridge was dedicated to Gillian & Bruce Wakefield's 51st wedding anniversary - Happy Anniversary Gill & Bruce!), I suspect we weren't the only ringers in the county enjoying a barbecue in this hot weather. Apart from our friends from Towcester, who I hope enjoyed their ringing in a scorching Ipswich!

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Saturday 16th July 2022

Happy Birthday to Ruthie, my long suffering, patient wife and loving mother, who we couldn't do without.

Today though, we had to do without her, as she set off early for a hen do in Norwich via a spa day in Thetford.

In her absence, the boys and I busied ourselves with activities on a day when we also had to be wary of the hot weather, albeit not as hot as that which is forecast to come.

First up was football training for Alfie and Joshua before things got too hot, although with things already very warm, there were lots of water breaks and plenty of suncream to hand as things were managed superbly.

From there we were grateful for the shaded patio at the care home that is now my Aunty Marian's new permanent abode and where this former ringer enjoyed hearing in more detail about our day at the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final, the wellbeing of ringing characters she knows well and peals recent and planned.

One of the owls, with the tower of St Peter's in the distance. One of the owls, with the reflection of St Nicholas' church in the Willis Building behind. One of the owls in front of St Nicholas' church.
St Margaret. St Nicholas.

With those increasingly searing temperatures, the next few hours were spent strictly indoors until I felt it was safe enough for our next adventure - the Owl Trail around Ipswich town centre. Predominantly outdoors and on foot, it wasn't something that would've been sensible to do in the midday sun, but my sons and I were keen to do it and starting from purchasing the map from Christchurch Mansion as the bells of St Margaret's were being rung for a wedding, we had a thoroughly enjoyable meander through the town's main park, past the 10cwt five of St Nicholas that sits opposite one of the owls, right down to Portman Road and back up into town where we finished our efforts with a visit to McDonalds, Despite being hampered by (twice!) having to retrace our steps when leaving the boys' water bottles behind, we managed an impressive total of eighteen owls, although that is just a fraction of the ninety-seven Big & Little Hoots dotted around the county town.

St Lawrence, Towcester, Northants - - 395814 St Mary-le-Tower. Hintlesham. Sproughton.

We were even able to greet the Towcester ringers as they gathered in the St Mary-le-Tower churchyard before they rang on the 34cwt twelve as part of a ringing weekend that had already taken them to places such as Hintlesham and Sproughton. When I lived and rang in the West Midlands, the small town in Northamptonshire that is home to my favourite twelve was a very familiar place to me, somewhere that I occasionally visited on their Friday evening practices, often as part of a weekend there that involved peals and/or attending their summer and Christmas meals. They're a sociable lot with close links to the Birmingham ringing scene and so although like everywhere ringers have come and gone, knowing they would be in town I was keen to say hello. I was pleased that I did, as I got the chance to catch up with Richard Allton, John & Ann White and also Norfolk ringers Michael & Barbara Clements who were with them too.

Blythburgh. Bardwell.Despite the very kind offer from them to join their ringing, having promised the boys Happy Meals I instead listened to them from behind a Big Mac before my youngest sons and I made our way home for a quiet evening in, but our friends from two counties over weren't the only ones ringing within our borders today, with a poignant 1260 of Plain Bob Triples rung at Bardwell and Trevor Conway ringing his first quarter-peal inside in the Plain Bob Doubles at Blythburgh.

Well done Trevor and Happy Birthday Ruthie!

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Friday 15th July 2022

Christine Knight's Peal Band.
Christine Knight's Peal Band

Stratford St Mary.Congratulations to Suffolk Guild Peal Secretary Christine Knight on fifty years of peal-ringing. Always willing to ring in peals if she is able, she is an incredibly useful ringer to have in a band and a cheerful presence as well. Her first peal was rung on Saturday 15th July 1972 in Stratford St Mary of Cambridge Surprise, Kent Treble Bob and Plain Bob Minor and so it was appropriate that on Friday 15th July 2022 that she rang a 5040 of Cambridge Surprise, Kent Treble Bob and Plain Bob Minor at Stratford St Mary. Congratulations also to Julian Colman, for whom the 3hr 2min today was his two hundredth in the medium.

Tostock.That wasn't the only success involving an SGR officer in the county on another hot day. Well done to PRO Neal Dodge on ringing his first quarter-peal of Surfleet Surprise Minor in the 1320 at Tostock, which was also his one hundredth QP with Andrea Alderton.

No ringing for us though, with another Friday evening on the sofa, although that did allow us to join in with Simon Rudd and friends for his weekly virtual pub where participants 'dialed' in from France and the Shetland Islands.

I think Christine definitely deserves to be the headline maker today though - congratulations again!

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Thursday 14th July 2022

A quiet evening in gave me the chance to read an article on the BBC News website today that highlighted areas being "left behind", usually with high levels of unemployment, poverty and crime. As usual, amongst numerous other issues, it quotes several residents on the estate in Kettering that it uses as an example, who claim that many youngsters get into drugs and crime because there is nothing for them to do. And as usual, I found myself rolling my eyes, as a quick look on Google Maps shows that there are three rings of bells a mile or twenty minutes walk or so away - the 8cwt sixes of Warkton and Weekley and the 21cwt twelve in the town centre, an area that I imagine a number may well find their way to anyway. All offering a physical and mentally absorbing activity with pretty much limitless opportunities and a lifetime of new challenges and all for practically no money. No doubt, the local ringers would appreciate new, young recruits too, as well as their parents.

St Lawrence. St Clement. Of course, it isn't as simple as that. Harsh as it seems to say, some won't be interested in finding anything else to do, else they would've found other low-cost activities like football or something else already. Some ringers may be wary of getting involved with young people from such estates, perhaps understandably. However, if there was some way that ringing could connect with families from areas like Avondale Grange, it could be highly beneficial to all parties. Imagine what could be done at towers like St Clement and St Lawrence in Ipswich with willing youngsters from estates like Chantry and Gainsborough? Far easier said than done though.

Buxhall.If successful and if it took advantage of ART, a superb outlet to let the world know about it would be Tower Talk, whose editor is Suffolk's very own Ruth Suggett from Bardwell. The twenty-third edition is now available to read and is packed with uplifting stories of learners and successes from Learning the Ropes. The front page is adorned by a picture of the ringers who rang for the Platinum Jubilee at Bardwell, whilst further in, Cambridgeshire ringer Maggie Fenton celebrates ringing at her fiftieth different tower, which happened to be within our borders at Buxhall. There is also an account of a first peal which I hope inspires learners in our county to make their debut in the medium, but more immediately I would point readers to the last page that advertises the Learning the Ropes Festival due to take place in Norwich on Saturday 20th August and is aimed at those who have at least reached Level 2 and are achieving - or have achieved - Level 3. Well done Ruth on another superb issue!

Nice to have plenty to read on a quiet evening in.

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Wednesday 13th July 2022

Pettistree. On another hot summer's day, it would've been lovely to help out at the Veteran's Afternoon at Debenham and then later to join Pettistree practice this evening and top it all off with a drink outside The Greyhound.

Work and parenthood prevented me from doing any of that. I am blessed to have both of course and at least others were able to support the ringing on the 21cwt eight and the ground-floor six where the 8cwt fifth is the heaviest bell in the tower.

Pettistree Ringers.
Pettistree Ringers Tonight

Once Ruthie had finished work and I had taken Alfie to football practice, my wife was able to enjoy the latter where the pre-session quarter-peal was very kindly dedicated to the birthdays of Joshua and his mother, as well as that of Pippa Moss, and which was joined by John and Sonia Harriyott from Sussex on their usual annual holiday in the area and welcome visit to the practice here. There was a lot there generally, judging by the photo Mike Whitby took!

Helmingham.The 1274 of York Surprise Minor (London below the treble, Cambridge above it) wasn't the only success in Suffolk though, as the fiftieth Guild peal of 2022 was rung with the 5024 of Yorkshire Surprise Major at Helmingham that wished Brian Whiting well, as we all do.

I imagine he would've liked to have been ringing today too.

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Tuesday 12th July 2022

The news was awash with spectacular photos of the universe going back further in time than the human race has ever seen, awe-inspiring shots showing far off galaxies as they were before the Earth was even formed. Naturally then, I was inspired to search how far BellBoard goes back. 1631 it appears, rather than 13.5 billion years. One can rightly assume that today was more interesting for those involved in the James Webb Space Telescope than it was for me.

Offton. Other ringers in Suffolk were somewhere in between us and the clever folk with the JWST in the interest stakes, as the weekly practice at Offton was preceded with a 1280 of Cambridge Surprise Major, a performance that I'm sure was out of this world!

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Monday 11th July 2022

Happy Sixth Birthday to our youngest son Joshua!

It is a landmark worthy of celebration for a sensitive and kind little boy who regularly makes us laugh with him, even if his tantrums are something else! As the youngest, we constantly worry about him potentially feeling left out as he strives to do what his older brothers do but he is too small to manage! When he hasn't got a strop on, it is hard not to find him adorable, even if he has come a long way from the fragile little being that we all start out as.

St Mary-le-Tower.That said, today's celebrations were slightly muted compared to the weekend's, especially Saturday's, but before and after school and work there was time for a bit more present opening, with his Granny Kate and Grandad Ron coming round in the evening and having left them to go to St Mary-le-Tower's weekly practice I was very kindly passed another from his Uncle Chris via his Nana Sally.

The session was slightly lower than usual on numbers, but still saw much done on ten, including spliced Cambridge & Yorkshire Surprise Royal before we retired to the beer garden of the Halberd Inn, where we enjoyed a refreshing drink as England's women's footballers were thrashing Norway on the big screens.

Elsewhere though, there wasn't much else to note in Suffolk, bar a 1260 of Doubles for the Norwich Diocesan Association at one the county's towers that falls within their boundaries Somerleyton, rung to mark the eightieth birthday of the second ringer Lawrence Hassall tomorrow.

Happy Birthday for tomorrow Lawrence, but more importantly for us, Happy Birthday today to Joshua!

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Sunday 10th July 2022

Grundisburgh.I intend never pressure them into it, but it is my hope that at least one of the boys takes up ringing and enjoys even just a fraction of what the art has given me for over thirty years. Mason was starting to take it seriously and ringing both strokes after years of just doing backstrokes until the pandemic interrupted, and after more than two years of getting used to meeting his friends and playing games with them online has given up on the exercise altogether, at least for now. Alfie had a go at the superb Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre in Norwich when we visited there on Rambling Ringers three years ago, but hadn't done any since, although he did go through a stage of filling in the copy of Methodoku Mayhem I was kindly given the Christmas before last. This morning, our youngest son Joshua had his first go at the age of five years and 364 days old at Grundisburgh, on the tiny, easily controllable second of Suffolk's lightest twelve, on two boxes with Mark Ogden stood immediately behind him. If the experience of his older brothers is anything to go by, I don't think he'll rush into ringing with an unbridled enthusiasm, but God willing it has sown the seed for him.

Alfred also had another brief go having volunteered, before decreeing that he didn't want to after all, having just pulled the rope down from backstroke where it was set to check for length, but us adults had a go too, with some Grandsire Triples and - in what I think was a first for me - call-changes on the back nine.

St Mary-le-Tower.Earlier, the boys and I had been to St Mary-le-Tower, although quite late as we relented to Josh's constant requests to open the multitude of gifts he had very kindly been given by his classmates at his party yesterday. It was no quick process!

Fressingfield.Usual refreshments at Costa Coffee were sandwiched in amongst a busy morning of ringing, but sadly that was all I managed today as other plans had fallen through. I had intended to attempt Joshua's birthday peal this afternoon, with no time to do it on Saturday and no other opportunity for almost a month. However, despite starting arranging things several weeks ago, I just couldn't get a band. In part this was due to the usual problems of this time of year, like holidays, as well as ill-health. Mainly though, it was because I'd rather foolishly overlooked just how busy second Sundays of the month are in the county. Amongst the other calls upon the time of local ringers I was competing with, was the usual monthly Aldeburgh peal, although as is the norm over the summer months this was rung elsewhere today, on this occasion at Fressingfield with a 5008 of Double Norwich Court Bob Major which was the one hundredth peal on the bells and impressively conductor Alan Mayle's one thousandth of Major. Congratulations Alan!

Buxhall.There was also a quarter-peal of Quedgeley Surprise Major rung at Buxhall, although disappointingly another QP at Great Finborough  was lost on the first day of what is being forecast to be an official heatwave.

Instead of joining our fellow ringers on BellBoard this afternoon though, we instead visited my mother Sally where we sat in the garden whilst Joshie collected more birthday presents. I think he enjoyed that more than ringing!

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Saturday 9th July 2022

Bredfield has almost everything one needs in a village within an area of just a few hundred yards. A bowling club, football pitches, tennis courts, children's play area, shop and ring of six. Sadly, it no longer has a pub with the closure of The Castle a few years ago, but it has a village hall, which for our purposes this morning suited us perfectly.

Joshua's cake (taken by Ruth Munnings). Monday is the sixth anniversary of our youngest son Joshua's birth. Unlike his older brothers, he has never had a party held in honour of his birthday due to lockdowns and restrictions, but today we were able to finally give him and his classmates a party in Bredfield Village Hall. With tried and trusted entertainer Awesome Abi occupying and entertaining the children superbly as she did for Alfie's fifth birthday three years ago and the invaluable help of Ruthie's mother Kate, the boys' Grandad Ron and Mason, we were able to put on an occasion of dancing, games, balloons, magic and food, especially the brilliant cake by Corrie's Kitchen. There was even the sideshow of me moving Abi's car when someone asked for it to be moved mid-game! It was wonderful to see Josh enjoying himself so much. A real joy to behold.

It was the main part of a busy day which was preceded by football training for Alfie, followed by playing in Bredfield's playground with some of the boys' friends and was but the first of two parties that Alfred was invited to today, with the second taking him to Foxburrow Farm where I dropped him off before then dropping his mother off to sing in a concert at Great Bealings with Illuminati. All demonstrating perfectly why I couldn't arrange Joshua's birthday peal for today!

Indeed, there wasn't really time to fit any ringing of any length in, although I did manage to grab a read of this week's edition of The Ringing World with yet another fantastic front cover and which included a report on the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest, along with photos of the competing bands, including us of course!

Others were ringing elsewhere, with the visit of the College Youths to Merton College in Oxford on the occasion of their annual Country Meeting generating much stomach-churning video. If you're not aware, these are a 25cwt eight rung from a gallery that surrounds a tremendous drop to the church below. It is perfectly safe of course, with fencing protecting people from falling (apparently it wasn't always there, which has led to many stories - true or not - of ringers leaping over the low wall at backstroke and back again many years ago before the days of health and safety!), but if you're not keen on heights it can be very off-putting, to say the least! Video of other visits can easily be found online and it also prompted me to search out video of ringing at Pershore Abbey - where another 25cwt eight is this time rung from a cage suspended in the tower - in Worcestershire and the climb to the 22cwt ten at St Augustine and St John (John's Lane) in Dublin, which is not one for the faint hearted and even more so on the way down!

Barham. Saxmundham. Rickinghall Superior.
Barham, Saxmundham & Rickinghall Superior

Here in Suffolk meanwhile, there was also ringing, though in less terrifying venues, as quarter-peals of Doubles were rung at Barham and Saxmundham in 1260 and 1269 changes respectively, whilst Claire Free was ringing her first of Minor inside and Guild PR Officer Neal Dodge was ringing at his one hundredth tower in the county to a QP in the Plain Bob at Rickinghall Superior. Well done Claire and congratulations Neal!

Bredfield.Nothing on the 11cwt six at Bredfield though, the village with (almost) everything you need.

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Friday 8th July 2022

Ringing offers much, even on an otherwise nondescript Friday.

College Youths are in Oxfordshire and Cumberlands in Northern Ireland for their respective country weekends, with peals (ASCY peals, SRCY peals) being rung yesterday and today for both and I imagine probably a few more over the next couple of days.

Meanwhile here in Suffolk, there was a memorial service at Reydon for Don Price, an event that seems to have been well attended. We were very fond of Don, who was a kind and gentle constant in the early years of both mine and Ruthie's ringing, but sadly work commitments prevented us from going, as they did - along with our usual happily accepted responsibilities - from joining the ASCYs or SRCYs during their country weekends, although we did get to catch up with ringing friends via Simon Rudd's weekly virtual pub.

God willing there will be other opportunities to take advantage of what ringing offers.

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Thursday 7th July 2022

Me trying my eBells out. Boris Johnson's resignation as leader of the Conservative Party and therefore at some point in the future (currently the autumn) the Prime Minister inspired me to try some Westminster Surprise Minor out for my solo eBells practice with Wheatley on Ringing Room this evening.

In some respects this is is easier than some of the other stuff I having been doing in hand since Tim Hart's very kind gifting of these to me last year, as the inside bells spend large chunks in the same pair of places. However, whilst the back work is simple enough to get right (just keep dodging in between the treble leaving and then arriving back in 5-6) and the work in 3-4 is either built around the treble coming through or not far away from it, the front work (which can catch one out easily enough when 'just' ringing one bell) can become a little hazy when also concentrating on another bell. One can lose track a little of the places and dodges when your mind is also on another section! Of course, the whole structure is related and this is where thinking of it as a grid comes in useful, but putting it into practice in real-time is a different matter! Still, I thought it was sensible to ring on 1-2 on this occasion! Perhaps I'll be good enough to ring an inside pair when Mr Johnson actually goes, whenever that may be!

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Wednesday 6th July 2022

Boris Johnson isn't the only one looking for people to fill roles on a day that has apparently seen a record number of ministerial resignations from any UK government in history. There is a bit of it going on in ringing too, particularly on the Central Council, although happily the roles that need filling are not due to protest resignations.

One of those roles is that of Secretary, which the current incumbent Mary Bone gives the lowdown on in a YouTube video if anyone reading this might be interested in applying for it. As we found with trying to replace the excellent Abby Antrobus as South-East District Secretary before the equally excellent Liz Christian took on the job either side of the New Year, finding someone appropriate for the role is no easy task, but at least with the CCCBR they have a wider pool to pick from. Hopefully Liz won't take it on though, as we need her in the SE!

As CC President Simon Linford highlights in his latest blog shared on their website today, they also need more members for the PR Workgroup, which is led by one-time Ipswich St Margaret's ringer Vicki Chapman.

Pettistree.There was actual ringing going on today too though, with a handbell quarter-peal of Plain Bob Major rung in Moats Tye, whilst this evening Ruthie fitted in going to Pettistree practice with Alfie's football training, as he and I watched the first half of England's women's team win their opening match of Euro 2022 on TV at home.

No need to fill any jobs there then!

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Tuesday 5th July 2022

St Mary's church, Wimbledon - - 2168875 I have watched Wimbledon in previous summers, at least when there hasn't been a football tournament on, but I've never been enthusiastic enough over it to override Ruthie's strong dislike of tennis, so even Alfie's brief attempt to watch it last week hasn't motivated me to tune in this year. Therefore, we missed the centenary celebrations that were held on Centre Court on Sunday and which started with the sound of the bells of St Mary's whose spire can be seen from the famous courts. The segment starts 1hr 9min 43sec into the programme on iPlayer and is brief, but done well and there is some background to the filming on the CCCBR website.

Dennington. Meanwhile, it appears I misunderstood Neal Dodge's great fact about Dennington's tenor in Saturday's blog, as it is the heaviest bell cast in Suffolk, to remain in Suffolk, with the heaviest ever cast within our borders being the 19cwt tenor at Turvey in Bedfordshire, also cast by Alfred Bowell.

Offton. Elsewhere in the South-East District, as is often the case, a quarter-peal was rung before the weekly practice at Offton, with a 1250 of Yorkshire Surprise Major, but as is also often the case on a Tuesday, we didn't do any ringing, leading to a quiet evening in.

I suppose we could've watched some Wimbledon...

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Monday 4th July 2022

Another pleasingly productive practice at St Mary-le-Tower, building upon the benefits of our recent entry into the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest. For the second Monday running, Stedman Cinques, Cambridge Surprise Maximus and Yorkshire Surprise Maximus were all rung, but also rounds (and for some, call changes too) on twelve for local learners Anna and Jacob, as well as a couple of Bramford's, Amanda and Kate.

Front cover of The Tower Times. Also pleasingly, on the table in the centre of the ringing chamber were copies of the church's magazine, The Tower Times, which this week features our band photo from the Final at Guildford on the front. Despite the history and fame of the bells in ringing circles and that George Pipe was and Diana continues to be part of the fabric in the congregation for decades, it is unusual for us upstairs to be front and centre at a church where the choir typically makes the headlines, but the support we have had from the church, churchgoers and especially the vicar the Reverend Tom Mumford (who writes some very kind words about us inside the magazine) has been tremendous and much appreciated.

Afterwards we sat in the beer garden at the Halberd Inn, where I was fascinated to hear some recollections from Diana, prompted by her sorting out content for the exhibition for the Thanksgiving Event for George, due to take place in Ipswich on Saturday 23rd July.

Nottingham University Society peal band.Meanwhile, congratulations to former Wenhaston ringer Ambrin Williams on her graduation from Nottingham University, an event marked by a Nottingham University Society peal of Grandsire Triples that she trebled to at Gedling in Nottinghamshire on Saturday, on a productive day of ringing for her too.

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Sunday 3rd July 2022

Happy 80th Birthday to Guild Webmaster Chris Garner for yesterday. He has been responsible for maintaining and driving what I personally think is one of the very best ringing websites around. Thanks to his dedication (and Mary's patience!), the site is rarely out of date and is an outward sign of an active Guild, which can't be said of quite a few ringing organisation's websites!

Ringers at Chris & Mary Garner's BBQ.

This afternoon, we celebrated the occasion by joining Mr & Mrs Garner at their abode on the outskirts of Pettistree and Wickham Market for a BBQ with them and many of their friends, including a lot of local ringers of course. It was very kind of them to invite us, especially as there was an abundance of food and a firkin of beer provided! Blessed with lovely, dry weather and those big wide skies of rural East Anglia, it was a wonderful way to spend a summer's Sunday afternoon.

Friends of St Mary's Woodbridge banner. Earlier we had been ringing with yesterday's birthday boy at Pettistree for morning service, with Grandsire and then Stedman Doubles struck very well, before Ruthie and I went our separate ways at Woodbridge for my wife to sing and me to ring - accompanied by the boys - upstairs, ahead of attending the service itself, where it was pleasing to see the bells feature prominently on a banner celebrating the Friends of St Mary's Woodbridge.

Earl Stonham.There was no ringing noted on BellBoard from within our borders though, but there was a quarter-peal rung at Earl Stonham on Friday which I didn't mention then, but am more than happy to mention on my blog today. Which Chris will put up on the Guild's superb website.

Happy Birthday for yesterday Chris!

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aturday 2nd July 2022

I love delving into history and the history of ringing and the history of ringing in Suffolk. More particularly, the characters and places of Suffolk ringing in decades and centuries gone by. Therefore, I was enthralled this afternoon by George Pipe's obituaries in the 2002 Guild Annual Report, which shone a light on the lives of ringers who had taken the county's ringing through from the earlier decades of the 1900s and would have rung with ringers who had survived from the nineteenth century. Ranald Clouston was one of those remembered and someone I recall and he will remain a significant name in the SGR's history, especially his knowledge of bells and founders, a knowledge well regarded beyond our borders.

Bedfield. Monk Soham. Tannington. Worlingworth. Mendlesham. Tattingstone. Assington. Wetheringsett. Bildeston. Hadleigh.

However, there were names unfamiliar to me that evoked visions of ringing in the county in seemingly simpler times. Such as William Abbott, who had helped keep the bells of Bedfield, Monk Soham, Tannington and Worlingworth going - places that sit in blissful rural isolation even now, but back then must have felt like a world of their own. Or Thomas Lockwood of Mendlesham who was apparently the last link to the bands of the Stowmarket area in the pre-war era. Ken Sherwin who saw the work through to restore and augment Tattingstone (along with Bertha and Norman, who I imagine there are more memories of), Ernie Smith, who was tower captain at Assington for many years and Ernest Wallace who kept Wetheringsett going. Frank Betts of Bildeston and Hadleigh was another who linked us to art way back, having learnt to ring in 1929.

St Mary-le-Tower. Debenham.Sadly now we have lost George himself, a reminder that an event to give thanksgiving for his life is planned for Saturday 23rd July at St Mary-le-Tower, whilst the lives of those he remembered and who have ensured we have sound foundations to build on, reminds us that Veterans' Afternoon is due to return at Debenham on Wednesday 13th July to celebrate the debt we owe to the wonderful characters who for decades have helped the exercise to survive and flourish in these parts.

My journey into our past was taken whilst Ruthie and I sat in the ringing chamber at Grundisburgh whilst we waited for a wedding we were ringing for either side of to finish, a part of a busy day.

 The view out of Grundisburgh ringing chamber after the wedding. It had begun as pretty much every Saturday happily does these days, with football training for Alfie, but then quickly moved onto the boys' school fete, where we met their Granny Kate and their cousins. Deodorant won on the tombola rather than the numerous bottles of alcohol also available, more toys collected and Joshua's face painted, we left them in the care of their grandmother whilst we popped over to the little wobbly red brick tower to ring on six of the lightest twelve bells within our borders for Andy and Jess's big day. Stephen Pettman briefly joined us to let us in, but it was also nice to ring with Phil and Sandy Jones again, as well as Adrian Craddock and Mark Ogden. Sadly the bride was fifteen minutes late and we didn't get paid as they'd forgotten to bring the cash, but nonetheless it was nice to provide the soundtrack to the couple's happy day.

Dennington at the South-East District Practice.
South-East District Practice at Dennington. South-East District Practice at Dennington.
South-East District Practice at Dennington

Having collected the boys, tea was had and we were out ringing again, as we went along to the South-East District Practice at Dennington, apparently home to the heaviest bell cast in the county, by Alfred Bowell. Thank you to Neal Dodge for that information! We really could have done with more there and there really should have been more from the District with the biggest proportion of the Guild's membership, on a lovely summer's evening at a relatively central location for most of them, but there were still enough for a very productive session on this 19cwt ground-floor six, led by Ringing Master Jenny Scase. From call-changes & Plain Hunt on Five to London & Norwich Surprise Minor and much in between, there was something for all. It could've benefitted so many more though.

Some may have been understandably tempted to enjoy a post-ringing drink in The Dennington Queen immediately next door, but we needed to get back with Alfred and Josh who had been extremely energetic whilst we rang.

They weren't the only youngsters being active today of course, as in Exeter the Ringing World National Youth Contest was being held for an impressive twenty-three teams. Very well done to Sussex Young Ringers on winning the method competition and to our neighbours, Essex Young Eagles on winning the call-change competition and indeed to all who took part. Whilst it is a pity that there hasn't been a Suffolk entry for a few years, it is uplifting to see the photos of so many diverse, young bands on Facebook and the competition's Twitter feed all smiling and clearly enjoying the art.

This week's edition of the journal that sponsors the contest also arrived with us with a little bio of former Exning learner Jimmy Yeoman as part of the judging panel at the RWNYC, whilst the front cover featured him again as part of the Birmingham band that won the Taylor Trophy a week ago, but also us as part of the crowd at the results.

Perhaps one day someone will find it all a fascinating bit of ringing history.

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Friday 1st July 2022

Striking competitions. They are much maligned by a proportion of ringers, but in my opinion they are one of the most invaluable aspects of our art. The entries of St Mary-le-Tower and The Norman Tower into the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest have accompanied a rise in standards at both towers, whilst also attracting media attention and Ipswich's qualification for the Final and the Guild's victory in the Ridgman Trophy in King's Lynn have attracted significant and genuinely engrossed interest from our non-ringing friends and those of other bandmates that I have never witnessed to the same extent before. Competition is something that they can relate to more than method structure or peals and if I'm honest, if I were to take non-ringers to any ringing event, I would choose the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final. Indeed, if it weren't for the rail strikes last week, some non-ringing friends of one of our band had intended on coming along.

Guildford Cathedral, the South Front. - - 136670 Not only are they great from a PR and therefore potentially recruitment perspective though, but also a retention angle. Like peal-ringing, they give learners and young ringers something to aspire to and that ringing doesn't have to be limited to whatever your tower, District or even Guild can manage. A noticeable aspect of the attendance at Guildford Cathedral and previous Finals is the huge numbers a youngsters, some ringing, but many not. Rather than nitpicking at who is ringing for more than one team, what the rules say and that a particular team will always win, perhaps we ought to be making more of these as social occasions.

However, one striking competition where there are due to be even more youngsters and which has prompted my defence of the medium today, is tomorrow's planned Ringing World National Youth Contest in Exeter. I'm delighted to report that my Facebook feed was filled today with young ringers, parents and supporters beginning often long journeys (one was at a railway station in Cumbria at the start of theirs!) down to the South-West of England and on Simon Rudd's weekly Friday night virtual pub we were even joined by one Mum and her son from a practice in Bournemouth on their way to him representing a Norfolk team. Good luck to them!

Tostock.Meanwhile, within our borders, there were already achievements to note today. Well done to North-West District Ringing Master Maureen Gardiner, SGR Public Relations Officer Neal Dodge and conductor David Howe on ringing their first quarter-peal of Durham Surprise Minor in the 1260 at Tostock.

Sadly there won't be any Suffolk success in Exeter tomorrow (apart from former Exning learner and now Twelve-Bell champion Jimmy Yeoman, who is due to be an assistant judge), as there isn't a band, but perhaps if we encourage more support of striking competitions locally we might see some more youngsters coming through and we might have a team at forthcoming RWNYCs?

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Thursday 30th June 2022

Me trying my eBells out. My usual Thursday evening solo session on my eBells on Ringing Room with Wheatley was a brief one, necessarily fitted in around peal arranging and party arranging, both for the same cause. Form filling, emails, Facebook messages and phone calls all left me with less time than I typically get at this time of the week. Therefore, I chose to give something short but new to me a go, the result being a couple of courses of Little Bob Royal. Pretty reasonable it was too, which reassures me that I'm getting the basics right and that the feel is more natural as I even got the speed right.

Meanwhile, Diana Pipe has sent out further details on the George Pipe Thanksgiving Event due to take place on Saturday 23rd July via the Guild email through Chris Garner and the College Youths email through Secretary Simon Meyer. If you haven't received the email then please let Chris know, although I imagine the details will be on What's On shortly. There should be a huge turnout from across the country and around the world for this and I hope there will be, as George was deprived of a proper send-off because of the events of March 2020 when he died.

It is part of what is planned to be a busy July. Some of which I need to get back to organising...

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Wednesday 29th June 2022

This year's Rambling Ringers Tour sheet was emailed to us today, a few weeks before it is due to start. Usually it is a source of excitement and anticipation as it signals that our holiday isn't far away, but three years after we were last able to go, that excitement and anticipation is multiplied.

The plan for the 2022 Tour is to go to Leicestershire, but rather than for the fortnight it typically lasts for (it did briefly last for three weeks many years ago), it is lasting 'just' a week. Primarily this is in response to the uncertainties surrounding its return. How many members would come back? How many towers would be happy to welcome a group of visitors from across the country and indeed the world? How much accommodation might be available? In his email with the Tour sheet attached, Secretary Geoff Pick suggests there will be a healthy turnout, but it seems eminently sensible to break things back in gently after the last couple of years.

That said, we always welcome new members and so if you would like to join us and you can at least ring Cambridge Surprise Minor, then please do drop me a line and I'll let Geoff and Ringing Master Chris Woodcock know. The number of Ramblers or former Ramblers present at Guildford Cathedral on Saturday accurately indicates the high standard of ringing we normally get on Tour, but this isn't an elite Society. It is merely that when we are ringing on lots of other people's bells over a week or two, we have to ensure that we are making a pleasant noise, but so long as you can do that, I'm sure we'd be happy you joining us. You don't have to ring all week either. It can be for a day to dip your toe in or various days across the week. Our family usually have at least a day or two where we do something different for the boys. And at £5 a day, you only pay for the days you ring.

Pettistree.Our ringing was more everyday today though, as usual fitting in around work and Alfie's football practice, but Ruthie was able to join her mother Kate in going to Pettistree after Mrs Eagle had rung in the pre-practice quarter-peal and before they had a drink in The Greyhound. Ringing followed by a drink. Hopefully a pattern we'll get used to on Rambling Ringers again in a few weeks.

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Tuesday 28th June 2022

Dennington. Wickham Skeith. Nayland. Reydon. Bures. Little Cornard. Debenham. St Mary-le-Tower.

An email from South-East District Secretary Liz Christian to members via Webmaster Chris Garner today, reminded me that with June due to finish in a couple of days, there is much ringing planned for July, beginning with the SE District Practice that Liz was reminding everyone about. All being well, that will be at Dennington on Saturday evening between 6.30 and 8, a week before the North-West District Practice at Wickham Skeith and three weeks ahead of the South-West District Practice at Nayland between 7.30 and 9pm. In between, various other ringing occasions are penciled into the What's On. Such as the Ringing World National Youth Contest in Exeter, albeit sadly with no Suffolk representation this year. And back within our borders, it is planned for Don Price's Memorial Service to take place at Reydon at 11am on Friday 8th, Midweek Ringing at Bures and the newly pealed Little Cornard on Tuesday 12th, the day before Veterans' Afternoon at Debenham from 2pm, whilst a Thanksgiving Event for the life of George Pipe is due to happen at St Mary-le-Tower from 10.30am to 5.30pm. on Saturday 23rd.

Hopton.There was ringing in the county already occurring today though, as a 1280 of Cambridge Surprise Major was rung at Hopton by Thetford, which was not only Guild PR Officer Neal Dodge's first in the method, but also his 350th quarter-peal. Well done and congratulations Neal!

Nothing quite so exciting for us though, with no ringing on a quiet night in.
God willing July's days will be more interesting.

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Monday 27th June 2022

The Hawkear readings from Saturday's ringing were sent to us today and I have to admit to being disappointed with my showing. Not that it would've made any difference to the result, but it reflected the issue of the sound that the ringers, judges and those outside were hearing seemingly being quite different. What Hawkear has showed is certainly different to what I thought I was producing, whilst it was notable that whilst we and those listening outside thought we'd started well and tailed off, the judges thought the opposite, which having listened back to our ringing on the broadcast, is backed up by the live feed. Overall though, there can be no disputing that collectively we rang very well, with Hawkear also highlighting some real stars, in the literal and metaphorical sense!. Ruthie was certainly pleased with hers, and rightly so!

Official team photo.

Also sent to us today was the official band photo which will become the pictorial record on the website and in The Ringing World for future generations to hopefully look back at and nod approvingly and was shared on St Mary-le-Tower's Facebook page and Twitter feed.

It all contributed to a very upbeat atmosphere on my first return since Saturday's exploits to the ringing chamber that got us there. An atmosphere that was further enhanced by the visit of a Ukrainian couple who were met with applause on entering the ringing chamber and the arrival of the newly engraved Ridgman Trophy, and even more so by a repertoire that included well rung Stedman Cinques (with a different, more musical touch now we are released from getting to know that one!), Cambridge Surprise Maximus and Yorkshire Surprise Maximus.

Afterwards, recollections of a great weekend were shared in the Halberd Inn and plans mooted for more twelve-bell ringing with thoughts already moving towards next year's contest. When God willing I shall get the chance to improve upon my efforts.

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Sunday 26th June 2022

As we get older, there are signs that we may be getting wiser. In the past, both Ruthie and I have been guilty of overdoing it at the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final, although we've certainly not been the only ones! Yesterday, armed with experience, although we drank more alcohol then we would typically drink in a day, we took it relatively easy (especially considering our early draw!) and - crucially - interspersed it with drinks of water, meaning that whilst we awoke in a slightly subdued and tired mood after all the excitement of the previous twenty-four hours, we felt OK. No hangovers or feeling ill every time we moved, vowing to never ever drink again.

It allowed us to face a less packed but still enjoyable day with relatively fresh minds, starting with breakfast in the Holiday Inn with some of our fellow Ipswich bandmates and supporters, as well as a chat with the victorious Birmingham Ringing Master Michael Wilby before we packed up and headed off.

West Horsley Place - 'Button Hall'.Not straight to Suffolk though. For we've become massive fans of the BBC sitcom Ghosts over the last couple of years, good clean family comedy (it stars the group who did the original Horrible Histories TV series) that we would recommend to anyone and which is set at the fictional Button House. In real life, that is West Horsley Place just outside Guildford, directly opposite the quaint little church of St Mary of West Horsley that houses an unringable 10cwt three and so we parked up in a nearby car park and took a little walk to try and get a closer look. It has open days periodically, but it didn't seem to have one today and so we had to view it from afar, but it was still a thrill to see it in the 'flesh'.

Ruthie at Ufford Park Hotel.Even if there was an open day, we hadn't booked and didn't have time, as we needed to be back home in time to wander up to Ufford Park Hotel. For with mother-in-law Kate in Birmingham taking the boys to Cadbury World and a voucher for a sparkling afternoon tea that I had got my wife for her birthday last year waiting to be used, we took the opportunity to use it this afternoon. Very lovely it was too, as has been this whole weekend allowing us to spend time doing something we enjoy and (hopefully) helping the Ipswich team yesterday without boring the children and it was thanks to Mrs Eagle that we could do that. She is one of a number that need thanking for helping us as a team to get to where we got to. Personally that also includes my Mum Sally for childsitting when needed, as well ringing her least favourite principal when called upon to allow us to ring it more often. Furthermore, she and a number of others from those that didn't stop in Surrey overnight, as well as some from St Margaret's very kindly manned the bells at St Mary-le-Tower this morning for service ringing whilst many of the band were still stirring nearly a hundred miles ago. Much gratitude is extended their way.

Having finally settled at home, we took the chance to look through social media from the event (Ruthie features a fair bit on the St Martin's Guild Twitter feed!) and watch some of Matthew Tosh's live broadcast. There is 8hr 19min 35sec of it so obviously not enough time to watch it all, even if we felt so inclined, but key moments from an Ipswich perspective include coverage of our test piece from 2hr 8min in with the band's names featured along the bottom (although an administrative error meant that it said David Sparling rang the treble when it was in fact James Smith) and the excellent interview with Colin & Katharine Salter afterwards at 2hr 24min in. However, the band are centre of the picture just after the draw 37min 28sec in and the cheer when we were drawn third to ring 30min 58sec in can be enjoyed! Beyond that, you can enjoy people spotting at various points throughout right up until the results and presentation of the Taylor Trophy. Well worth a watch, especially Birmingham's winning piece.

Little Cornard peal band.Naturally enough for a Sunday, there was other ringing happening on the county's bells, most notably at Little Cornard where sixty years of Derek Rose ringing was celebrated with the first ever peal on the 8cwt six. Many congratulations to Derek in particular and to all involved in this project on reaching this significant landmark, achieved today with a band of wise ringers! And getting wiser, I'm sure.

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Saturday 25th June 2022

According to the Doves Guide database online, Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire and Stafford in Staffordshire are in the process of becoming the 132nd and 133rd ring of twelve or more bells in the UK. Not all those towers have active twelve-bell bands of course and some in the bigger cities will be rung by the same group of ringers, but there are a lot of places practicing the art through the medium of Cinques of Maximus. And today, the St Mary-le-Tower band were confirmed as one of the top ten in the country as we appeared in the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest. There was much fun achieving it too on a long, but fantastic day in Guildford.

It began early, in Woodbridge as we left the boys sleeping at Granny Kate's house and began a journey that was largely and mercifully uneventful, bar driving anti-clockwise round the M25 when we'd intended to go clockwise and the SatNav directing us past the turning for the Holiday Inn where we were staying and then wanting us to do a U-turn on the A3! Despite that though, we were at our accommodation in plenty of time to check our vehicle into the car park and take the ten minute stroll to the Cathedral. On such an occasion, the approach to this imposing structure, at the end of a long driveway at the top of big hill was quite imposing, perhaps even more so for the presence of the marques set up for the arrival of hundreds of people. There was no turning back now, but we didn't want to. This is what we had been waiting for!

The daunting approach to Guildford Cathedral! The beer tents outside the front of Guildford Cathedral. Outside the west front of Guildford Cathedral before the draw.

Our excitement levels were raised further by purchasing beer tokens, beer glasses and the programme before we entered the vast nave. Stands were being put up along the side aisles, including by The Ringing World as I grabbed a quick chat with editor Will Bosworth and Maypole Bells, which were being enjoyed by many young and not so young. With still an hour until the draw, I got Ruthie a cuppa, had a chat with local ringer - and one of around a hundred volunteers stewarding, serving and guiding attendees - Anthea Edwards who I used to ring with in Birmingham and we waited with our fellow Ipswich ringers for the rest of our team and to collectively settle the nerves.

Cotton.Other familiar faces began entering the bright interior, such as John Loveless who learnt to ring at Bures and wrote George Pipe's biography, his wife Linda Garton and Anthony Cotton from Derbyshire who I rung with much over the years and three years ago conducted a peal of Cotton Delight Major at Cotton! Still, it seemed relatively quiet for an event that often attracts around a thousand ringers and friends. Until I stepped outside to get to the facilities...

There, on the huge area in front of the west end of the Cathedral, hundreds of ringers were already gathered from around the country. Indeed the world, as after being given words of encouragement from Birmingham ringer and Past Master of the College Youths Steph Warboys, the first people I got chatting to were Paul de Kok and his daughter Thirza from the Netherlands, fellow Rambling Ringers and who are now well known for being the driving force behind the eight and now also ten in Dordrecht. There was a glint in Paul's eye when Nigel Gale and myself suggested he now needed a twelve so we could hold this competition on the continent!

Me looking looking decidedly uncomfortable in my team polo shirt. Inside the Cathedral after the draw.

Before we could get too carried away with that notion though, it was time for everyone to go into the church for the draw and so with a hug from Molly Waterson who was ringing with Bristol but who learnt in our neck of the woods with her brother Ben and mother Gill, and a high five from Cecilia Pipe, we took our seats for what was arguably the most nerve-wracking moment of the day. With ten teams at half an hour each to get through, our worry was being drawn last and having to wait until 4pm to ring and 4.30pm to relax and get properly stuck into the beer. You can understand the spontaneous outburst of joy when we were drawn third! Pretty much the perfect position, allowing us time to have a settling pint ahead of ringing, but also to enjoy the majority of the day afterwards.

From there, the conductors - Colin Salter in our case - were briefed, the official team photo was taken in one of the chapels and then an unofficial one with our supporters, by which point the favourites Birmingham were practicing. A notable phenomenon at these occasions are the crowds that gather to listen to the Brummies, something I was always glad I couldn't see when I used to ring for them! As such, the south side of the Cathedral beneath the tower was busy as they rang.

The running order on the screen whilst the conductors are given instructions. Waiting upstairs before ringing. In the ringing chamber beforehand. The Maypole Bells.

We had a chance to chat with David Pipe and his son Henry (who now towers above his father!), listen to my former fellow bandmates, finish our beer and take a strategic - ahem - break, before we needed to make the long walk to the base of the tower and then what seemed an even longer walk up the tower, where we had to wait in a corridor somewhere up above the roof space of this massive building whilst the Cumberlands rang. Once they were finished, we made our way into the vast ringing chamber, congratulated them as they wished us luck, waited for 12.30pm to come at this strictly timed contest, rang the touch of Stedman Cinques in its entirety, uttered words of encouragement to each other, just about got the signal that we were starting in about a minute before we had to be in changes and then got underway, before we welcomed the next team Oxford in, wishing them luck whilst they congratulated us and I spoke football with their conductor Robin Hall, and then descended the stairs much more quickly than we ascended them, a metaphorical weight lifted from our shoulders.

Crowds outside Guildford Cathedral as the Contest continues. Crowds outside Guildford Cathedral as the Contest continues. Crowds outside Guildford Cathedral as the Contest continues.

At the bottom, some of us paused to watch Colin and his mother and Guild Ringing Master Katharine being interviewed on Matthew Tosh's live broadcast, but once that was done, we were unleashed on the beer tent and BBQ! To and from getting our drinks we were stopped by many people, all of whom seemed to concur with the impression that we got inside, that we started confidently and then slowed and fell away a bit, but was overall a very decent piece of ringing we could be very pleased with.

The Ipswich band and supporters.
The Ipswich band and supporters
© 2022 Julian Colman

Bar my wife and I going back down the hill to check into the Holiday Inn, we then spent the rest of the day enjoying the superb ales of TEA and Surrey Nirvana from the nearby Hogs Back Brewery and catching up with so many people, from the Hills Christine, Peter and Rosemary, David Mattingley, Edd Colliss, Hannah Taylor, one-time Rambling Ringers Terry Astill, Matthew Dawson and Phil Ramsbotton (whose brother John rings within our borders) and current fellow Rambler Stuart Hutchieson, as well as former Suffolk ringers George Salter and Alex Tatlow, amongst others. It was truly marvelous to see so many, shame as it was that there were so many others that we didn't get the opportunity to catch up with.

My previous placing on the 'Ringers in Finals' leaderboard by percentage of wins. Awaiting the results Michael Wilby lifts the Taylor Trophy. My new placing on the 'Ringers in Finals' leaderboard by percentage of wins.

Eventually, over five hours and several pints since we had finished ringing, word got round that the judges Julia Cater, Tom Hinks and (would you believe it, another Rambling Ringer) Alex Riley were ready to impart their comments and results. Hundreds poured in and waited in anticipation and then the moment came. We came last, but not very last and we had produced a good piece of ringing, and there were encouraging cheers and applause for us as our name was read out. The only surprise was that they concluded that our ringing started in an unsettled fashioned and got better, contrary to the general view of those of us who rang and those listening outside. It highlighted an issue that many picked up that what ringers inside the ringing chamber could hear was different to what was heard outside and also to that which was on the live feed the judges were listening to. Nobody suggested that it affected the results in anyway, but there was some surprise that the ASCY - that myself and others thought from the churchyard might be in with a chance of winning - came joint sixth. That surprise merely added to the tension, especially as some had commented that Birmingham had rung as well as they thought they would. Who would win? In the end, it came down to the SRCYs and the Brummies. Young Mr Riley dragged the suspense out with a knowing grin and a chuckle from his fellow judges, before he announced that Team B had come second. Birmingham had won for an astonishing twenty-fifth time, the crowd erupted in a roar (although admittedly not as much as that which greeted the unexpected victory of Exeter three years ago!) and Michael Wilby lifted the Taylor Trophy triumphantly on behalf of his band before imparting how good it was that we were all back. Rarely a truer word spoken. Very well done especially to former Exning learner Jimmy Yeoman on winning it in his first competition and climbing to near the top of the list of ringers who have won the greatest percentage of finals they've rung in, a list that I have now plummeted down! He certainly seemed more relieved when I spoke to him afterwards than when I spoke with him beforehand!

Back outside, the bar remained open for a short while, but along with Claire & Ian Culham, Julian Colman and David Potts, we returned to the Holiday Inn to freshen up and then take an Uber into the town centre itself where most of our band and supporters club enjoyed a meal at an Italian restaurant called Olivo and then returned to base to grab a drink in the hotel bar before it closed.

It was a very pleasant way to end a wonderful day. One of the biggest signs of what we were up against was the history of the other teams over the last ten contests, a list that we were absent from having not entered since 2007. Only half our band had rung in a Final before, but now join a group that still only numbers a few hundred, even after this, its forty-sixth year. Yet we only finished 10% behind the previous winners Exeter today and earnt a lot of compliments, although "We're happy just to be here" became a catchphrase that epitomised the well-meaning conversations many of us had with others! We were grateful for the support from Suffolk both in person and via messages (including from the vicar the Reverend Tom Mumford) and even though I hated that they were polo shirts and I had to get mine off at the earliest opportunity, the striking blue team shirts made us stand out and looked very smart. Well done to all the team, but particularly Amanda Richomd and especially David Potts on making it all actually happen.

Meanwhile, the Guildford ringers and their volunteers are to be congratulated on hosting so brilliantly, with great beer, lovely food and helpful staff. For all that the big ringing circle and bouncing sound inside the tower caused issues, their hosting was absolutely faultless.

An unfortunate clash between the Centenary Guild Dinner and the 2023 eliminators means that there is uncertainty about whether we can practically enter next time round, which is a pity as we'd love to do both and this competition has represented Suffolk ringing so magnificently this year with The Norman Tower's entry and super hosting of one of the eliminators in March as well. Hopefully something can be arranged, as we would dearly love to go to the Dinner (especially as a Past Ringing Master), but we would also dearly love to build on on entry this year with one next year. When who knows how many twelves there might be?

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Friday 24th June 2022

The 25th of this month has been as anticipated in this household in a way only typically reserved for the 25th December. Today therefore was National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final Eve.

Mercifully there was no last minute present wrapping, nor has there been a bell shaped chocolate from a calendar every day this month, but there was that same slightly nagging anxiety that anything going wrong at this point would almost certainly spell the end of all our exciting plans for the next couple of days.

Well, so far so good. Most of the Ipswich band are now in Guildford ahead of tomorrow's planned competition, the team's WhatsApp chat alive with pictures and tales of early drinks, but also warnings about turning up hungover in the morning! We weren't amongst them, with two nights of child-sitting a big, unfair ask, especially after asking a lot of our usual child-sitters in recent months. However, we did end up going to bed where and when we had intended, with everyone including our children, mother-in-law Kate who very kindly agreed to look after them this weekend and our fellow bandmates seemingly all in good health.

It was at Mrs Eagle's that we were spending the night, the plan being that we set off for Surrey early in the morning to give us plenty of time to ensure making it to the Cathedral when the draw is due to happen, but without waking the boys to drop them off and/or disturbing Ruthie's Mum too early. Unusually for a Friday evening therefore, it was sober and early, although we did enjoy a takeaway pizza.

The day was generally similar in many ways to 24th December, with a half-day at work as I took the afternoon off to prepare for the 25th and a sense of just getting through it unscathed, although I did take the opportunity to read the new edition of The Ringing World which arrived with us today and features Don Price's obituary by Mike Sage (as already featured on this website) and a report on the back page by Alan Winter about last week's Ridgman Trophy at King's Lynn, complete with photo of the band.

Euston. Elveden. Horringer. Tostock.
Euston, Elveden, Horringer & Tostock

Unlike most Christmas Eves though, it involved no ringing for us, but there was plenty going on elsewhere in Suffolk on a busy day in the exercise on the county's bells. That included a couple of peals for the Peterborough Diocesan Guild of a 5040 of Surprise Minor at Euston and a 5024 of Unthank Surprise Major in the detached tower at Elveden that nonetheless involved resident SGR members, but also a 5072 of Double Norwich Court Bob Major in the Guild's name at Horringer and a quarter-peal of Marple Delight Minor at Tostock, which was a first in the method for conductor Stephen Dawson. Well done Stephen!

And Happy National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final Eve everyone!

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Thursday 23rd June 2022

I got ambitious on my eBells this evening, with Wheatley on Ringing Room. Too ambitious at first. For I thought I'd give Bristol Surprise Major a shot. Initially I thought I'd try 7-8, thinking how nicely course bells fit in together in Bristol. On towerbells when I'm just ringing one bell to this, I can usually keep track of my course bells relatively easily, even more so than in something like Cambridge for example. Ringing two bells in this oft-perceived complex method is not as easy, as I discovered. Even without the iffy internet connection, I think it was always going to be a step too far at these still early, tentative steps of mine into handbell ringing, so I decided to take a step back and try it on 1-2, with the result being I got through a course! It was far from pretty and I dare say it might even have been set up on towerbells at a practice night, but I couldn't imagine getting through a course of Bristol Surprise Major a few weeks ago, let alone a year ago!

It all came at the end of quite an active evening for a Thursday, as we went round mother-in-law Kate's to celebrate the tenth birthday of our niece Katelynn with a table sized feast and a 'Sorting Hat' cake (Harry Potter fans will know what I'm referring to!), before Ruthie had to get off to choir practice and I got the boys to bed ahead of my solo handbell practicing.

Meanwhile, the local organisers shared a photo through their Facebook and Instagram page of just some of the hundred helpers that are due to be on duty at Guildford Cathedral on Saturday, which I hope further encourages people to come along, especially with lots planned to be on show such as ART, The Ringing World and Maypole Bells amongst much else. And a suggestion also to bring cash (we must be almost the only section of society that still uses it!) for the bar and food, as although there will be card machines, there are only planned to be two of them on the day.

Wickham Skeith. Elveden. Buxhall. Pakenham.
Wickham Skeith, Elveden, Buxhall & Pakenham

Closer to home, an email via the Guild (if you don't get emails through the Guild and would like to, then please contact Webmaster Chris Garner) from the North-West District Secretary David Everett about their events lined up for the coming months. The District Outing has been postponed until October, which has led to a rejigging of their calendar. The plan is now for them to go Wickham Skeith in July, Elveden in September, Buxhall in November for their ADM and Pakenham in December, all on the second Saturday of each month. Hopefully they will be well supported by their members in particular, but also others from beyond the District, as this wonderful art of ours allows that.

Our wonderful art also allows ringers like me to occupy myself on my own at home whilst my children are in bed, with ambitious things like Bristol Surprise Major.

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Wednesday 22nd June 2022

Guildford Cathedral, the South Front. - - 136670 Southwold.Typically a sign that the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final is not far away is when Matthew Tosh releases the trailer for the day-long broadcast that he usually leads and presents and indeed three days before we are due to be at Guildford Cathedral for the biggest ringing competition in the world, this year's was released via the contest's social media channels, complete with a clip that sounds like Simon Rudd bringing in cake! Kudos to anyone who sits and watches every second of the broadcast, but I have often had it running when unable to get to the event, the sound of magnificent ringing and the voices of friends and familiar characters floating throughout the house as I have gone about my business, attempting to feel like I am at an occasion that I have always enjoyed immensely when there. Normally it takes the format of opening at 10.45am - as it plans to this Saturday - in readiness for the 11am draw and then broadcasts the test pieces live and fills the time in between with interviews with participants, judges, hosts and other attendees, as well as running interesting reports on things going on behind the scenes and often from the previous night as ringers gather ahead of the big day itself. It then climaxes with the results, which at the last Final held in 2019 in Exeter produced the most joyous scenes when it was announced that the home team had won, 7hr 53min 50sec into the broadcast. I hope many of you can be there, but if you can't, I would strongly encourage you to take this in as much as you're able, although please do also support the North-East District Ringing Meeting at Southwold from 2.30pm onwards, if you can. All being well, the broadcast should be found on the contest's YouTube channel on Saturday.

Pettistree.Normal life has to be negotiated safely up until then first though, and these days on Wednesdays that means football training for Alfie which combined with Ruthie's work means neither of us can make the pre-practice quarter-peal at Pettistree currently, although they again seemed to manage that without us this evening! One of us is usually able to go to the session that follows though and this week that was my wife who went with her mother Kate and topped her efforts with a drink in The Greyhound next door.

Debenham.Meanwhile, it is worth taking note of the return of Veterans' Afternoon at Debenham, lined up for Wednesday 13th July. This is a wonderful celebration of the ringers whose metaphorical shoulders we stand on and who have helped build the art that so many of us enjoy. Non-veterans are also welcome to help and having been before, I can vouch for what a lovely way it is to spend a summer's afternoon. As far as I know though, there is no live broadcast of it.

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Tuesday 21st June 2022


Framlingham. The Norman Tower.Ringing seemed to be following the Suffolk Day celebrations on the county's BBC radio station around today, but not quite making it onto the airwaves. Mark Murphy - on the last week of doing the breakfast show before he is due to move to weekends - was outside Framlingham Castle up until 10am, presumably just before the first ever peal of Suffolk Day Delight Major was rung on the 16cwt eight at St Michael's a few yards down the road, as sadly I didn't hear anything as listened whilst I worked. Later, just after his wife Lesley Dolphin had finished her afternoon show from the Cathedral at Bury St Edmunds, a quarter-peal of Double Norwich Court Bob Major was rung at The Norman Tower.

However, one-time ringer Lesley did give an account of her learning to ring, as well as mentioning the Guild's victory in The Ridgman Trophy at King's Lynn and along with the Cathedral's PR Officer Sarah Friswell gave the exercise a plug about 3hr 47min into the programme, mentioning both the ringing that was to come and that at Fram earlier in the day.

Ufford.There was other ringing for the occasion though, as I conducted a 1260 of Doubles on the front six at Ufford this evening after popping to Woodbridge Library with the boys and before mother-in-law Kate returned to ours for a cup of tea and with tales of her recent trip to Austria. Additionally, a quarter was rung at Pakefield in the NDA for the First Light Festival at Lowestoft on the longest day of the year, with a band featuring resident Guild members.

Meanwhile, hopefully people are noting that a memorial service for Don Price is planned for 11am on Friday 8th July at Reydon. If there is anyone who isn't online that you feel would like to know this then please do let them know.

Once my ringing and our hosting was ended, I completed my evening with reading and viewing that had a strong theme of the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final running through it.

CCCBR President Simon Linford's latest blog includes some very important subjects, such as crowdfunding for the Mobile Belfry project and issues surrounding safeguarding, but finishes by stating his intention to present at Guildford Cathedral on Saturday for an event that he has already said is the highlight of his ringing year.

There is more reading on the occasion on The Association of English Cathedrals website, that mentions Ipswich and further underlines the stage that we are due to be on this weekend and we were further reminded of that by again comedian Marcus Brigstocke's superb documentary Trophy People that focused on the efforts of the Birmingham and College Youths in the 2006 Final at Worcester Cathedral.

Hopefully this year's Final will be as much a celebration for ringing as today has been for ringing.

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Monday 20th June 2022

I have to admit to nerves setting in. Not for the ringing on Saturday, although if and when we get there, experience tells me that there will be some healthy metaphorical butterflies in the tummy. Rather, as we head into the week building up to the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final that we are due to be participating in (I might have mentioned it), the nerves are mainly for everything to go right in the coming days. God willing no illness or injuries as we had to compete with in the lead-up to the eliminator and no transport issues, especially as the train strikes leaves everyone with fewer options, although the Facebook pages of both the Competition generally and the event in Guildford specifically have announced additional parking for the extra cars now expected.

Beer and chocolates at St Mary-le-Tower practice this evening.From a ringing perspective, there is no point being nervous at the moment. Quite apart from the fact that one has to remember it is still fun, we can't practically prepare anymore for the ringing until we get into the actual (vast) ringing chamber at the Cathedral, all being well sometime between 11.30am and 4.30pm (we hope closer to the former than the latter!). As expected, there wasn't another opportunity to practice the touch tonight at St Mary-le-Tower's weekly practice, with a handful of the band not there and a late start to allow for a fundraising concert in the church to finish meaning we had less time, although touchingly we had been left with beer and chocolates as a sign of their gratitude and also to wish us luck for the weekend.

St Lawrence.There was still a lot crammed into our willingly disrupted evening though. The learners were given their usual focus on tied bells at St Lawrence instead and once the ringing at St Mary-le-Tower got underway, we managed to get Superlative Surprise Major, Grandsire Caters, Stedman Caters, Cambridge Surprise Royal, Grandsire Cinques and lots of rounds on ten and twelve for George, Anna and Jacob, the latter pair showing true dedication by coming straight from their train (they are likely to be a rare sight this week) to the session, complete with camping gear on their backs!

Earlier in the day, a 5040 of Plain Bob Major was rung in hand at Moats Tye, already the ninth on handbells for the Guild this year, before we've even got halfway through it. According to Pealbase, the most peals rung on handbells for the SGR is seventeen in 1948. By my maths we are on course to beat that this year and set a record, so there's a challenge to our talented handbell ringers!

Perhaps a deserved drink was had by the band afterwards, but I actually passed on one after my ringing tonight, conscious that after a bit more than usual over the weekend to celebrate striking competition victories and Father's Day, I perhaps ought to give my liver a chance to recover ahead of potentially even more drinking this weekend. Hopefully that's one less thing to worry about before Saturday.

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Sunday 19th June 2022

St Mary-le-Tower. Guildford Cathedral, the South Front. - - 136670 That was it then. Our last planned practice of the test piece of Stedman Cinques we are due to ring at Guildford Cathedral on Saturday, with the band (bar one on this occasion) that is planning on ringing it for Ipswich on the 30cwt twelve in Surrey, was held this afternoon at St Mary-le-Tower. Some of us may get the chance to ring it at the usual weekly practice lined up for tomorrow evening, but it certainly won't be the full complement of ringers with one or two away on top of those such as Ruthie who normally can't make Monday nights up 'The Tower', and the later start time might mean that depending on numbers there simply won't be time for it. Otherwise though, the next time that it is planned for us to ring this touch is at Guildford in our practice piece before then ringing it competitively.

Analysing results on Hawkear at St Mary-le-Tower. What a practice it was too! With Hawkear guiding our analysis of our efforts, we got two four-star performances from our five goes at it, a reassuring way to finish our preparations. We are under absolutely no illusions as to how we might get on next weekend. Apart from hoping for an earlier draw than in the eliminator (third or fourth out of the ten would be ideal!), our main ambition is to ring as well as possible. We may finish last, especially if the experienced finalists and hosts familiar with the bells and ringing chamber ring at their very best, but if we produce a good piece of ringing then we shall be chuffed. If we ring as well as we did today, we should be delighted!

It all had the feel of a dress rehearsal, with James Smith sporting his team shirt and some of us having had a drink beforehand. The pre-ringing drink sounds a bit of a joke, even something entirely undesirable ahead of something that requires concentration and accuracy, but actually many - myself included - feel it is an almost vital means of settling the nerves. We won't produce good ringing if we are a nervous wreck, although some nerves channeled effectively are not a bad thing.

Framlingham Castle, with the tower of St Michael's church poking over the top! Me with my Father's Day beer in The Castle Inn in Framlingham. Ruthie and I had our drink each at The Castle Inn at Framlingham ahead of travelling to the county town and after taking the boys to the famous castle in the pretty market town. Stunning views can be seen from the walk around the top of this ancient structure, including of the tower at St Michael's church next door that holds the 16cwt eight, but also of a tower on the horizon to the north, which we speculated might be that of Badingham, which is home to a 9cwt ground-floor five. Perhaps someone more local might be able to tell us if our speculation is correct or not?

Our touristy bit this afternoon was all part of a lovely Father's Day treat on a day that I was royally looked after with cups of tea, wonderful cards and an announcement from Joshua that I "didn't have to do anything today." It always makes me feel very grateful for the blessings I have.

Despite my youngest's instructions, I did do something though, even apart from our session at St Mary-le-Tower, as I rang at Woodbridge this morning, which on this occasion was not only for the important reason of ringing the congregation in for the service. For Ringing Master Bruce Wakefield had received a request from a lady called Maureen Goodman to ring the bells in memory of her mother Grace Sidey, who died aged 97 in February and learnt to ring at Rushmere St Andrew in her teens with her brothers Jim & John Jennings. One of her last wishes was that the bells of Woodbridge were rung in memory of her and I am delighted to report that all eight were ringing out for her this morning in the presence of Maureen and her husband Bernard, and I felt privileged to be a part of it. Hopefully she would've been pleased with it.

Elsewhere in Suffolk, there was more ringing, including at Blythburgh, where all bar conductor Philip Gorrod and Jonathan Iles were ringing their first quarter-peal of Reverse Canterbury Pleasure Place Doubles in the 1260 on the ground-floor six that recently hosted the Guild Six-Bell Striking Competitions. Well done to all!

Hopefully it won't be the last time they ring it!

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Saturday 18th June 2022

St Margaret's Church - panoramio (1)
St Margaret's, King's Lynn

Like a football team in an FA Cup Final a week before they are due to play in a Champions League Final, it might have been easy for the five of us due to ring for the Ipswich band in next week's planned National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final at Guildford Cathedral and who were ringing in the Suffolk Guild team for The Ridgman Trophy today, to not apply quite the same focus to the ten-bell striking competition for East Anglia's ringing organisations as we usually do. And I have to admit that with the busy Sunday last weekend to fit in a quarter-peal and then unplanned practice for it before another practice for the twelve-bell, I wondered if we had taken on too much agreeing to this just seven days before we plan to be ringing in Surrey in the biggest striking competition in the world, especially when the boys have had to be pushed from one place to another whilst we went about it all.

As it happens though, I'm glad we did make the journey to King's Lynn today. Although the weather was pretty miserable (particularly compared to yesterday!), the boys still seemed to enjoy the opportunity of another vast space to run around in and a play corner to take advantage of and the bowls of chips each that they had in The Wenns whilst we had a post-ringing drink with our fellow bandmates, although I expect there were a million and one things they'd rather have been doing.

In the ringing chamber at King's Lynn before ringing in the Ridgman Trophy. In the ringing chamber at King's Lynn before ringing in the Ridgman Trophy. The boxes at King's Lynn.
The Minster ringing chamber

They behaved impeccably for Anne & Paul Bray who very kindly agreed to look after them whilst their parents again disappeared into a ringing chamber, this time for a touch of Erin Caters on the lovely ten at the Minster, even if the array of boxes for the tenors seemed a little OTT! Our practice beforehand was hardly inspiring, littered with mistakes, but with those eradicated for the test piece, we came away feeling fairly chuffed with what seemed like a decent bit of ringing.

The unique aspect to this competition is that the draw is done three weeks in advance. On the plus side that means that you can plan your day a bit more, for example meaning that we knew we had until until 12.45pm to get to the far north-west of Norfolk, which was welcome with young children and a two-hour journey (not helped this morning by the more rural route to avoid the closed A14!) to make and even allowed me the chance to read the bumper Platinum Jubilee edition of The Ringing World which got to ours today. It also means less hanging around for those who don't like hanging around at such events, but that lack of hanging around also means less casual mingling and catching up, as many participants come, ring and leave. Additionally, if you do just arrive in time for your ringing as we did, that you don't get a sense of what the other teams' ringing is like. We heard the Ely Diocesan Association as we got there, although not all of it and heard mere snippets from inside the pub of the Bedford Association and the Norwich Diocesan Association ringing and so we had no idea where our ringing fitted in with the general standard of the day.

Sally Brown, Lewis Benfield & Richard brown giving the results.
The Suffolk Guild band with the Ridgman Trophy. Front row r to l; Cathy Colman, Amanda Richmond, Colin Salter (C), Ruth Munnings & Katharine Salter. Back row l to r; Mark Ogden, Mike Cowling, Tom Scase, Richard Munnings & Julian Colman. (taken by Sally Brown) Guild Ringing Master Katharine Salter receiving the Ridgman Trophy from judges Sally Brown & Lewis Benfield (taken by Mike Cowling)
Sally Brown, Lewis Benfield & Richard brown giving the results,

The Suffolk Guild band with the Ridgman Trophy. Front row r to l; Cathy Colman, Amanda Richmond, Colin Salter (C), Ruth Munnings & Katharine Salter. Back row l to r; Mark Ogden, Mike Cowling, Tom Scase, Richard Munnings & Julian Colman. (taken by Sally Brown)

Guild Ringing Master Katharine Salter receiving the Ridgman Trophy from judges Sally Brown & Lewis Benfield (taken by Mike Cowling)

Therefore, we gathered in the church for the results from the Leicestershire trio of wife and husband Sally & Richard Brown and up and coming young ringer Lewis Benfield with no real idea of where we would finish. So when they announced that we were winners, we were genuinely surprised! To win it last year at Braintree after twenty-seven years was special, but to repeat the feat of the Guild from nearly three decades ago by defending it successfully is also very special. I guess the aim is now to win it three years in a row when the competition is due to go to the Peterborough Diocesan Guild - possibly at either Towcester or Higham Ferrers - in 2023 on Saturday 17th June.

Today's event was a great event. Superb hosting from the local ringers who supplied tea and cake and even offered to show us up to the bells, although time didn't allow us. Great also to catch up with various familiar faces from across the region, such as Linda Garton, John Loveless, Alban Forster, Richard Allton, Richard Carter, the Reverend Richard Turk and the usual banter with Dave Griffiths, amongst others. And well done to SGR Ringing Master Katharine Salter on continuing her 100% winning record in the competition in the role, her son Colin on calling it, Julian Colman for his much remarked upon tenor ringing and of course to all the band on ringing so well!

Aldeburgh.Meanwhile, back in the county we were representing, farewell to Aldeburgh ringer Sally Mason who is leaving for Bristol (where else would a Suffolk ringer be leaving for?) and whose departure was marked with a quarter-peal at her home tower yesterday.

Whilst she is departing Suffolk, we were returning for a couple of celebratory drinks at home and then watching a huge thunderstorm, which was a relaxing way to prepare for the Champions League Final National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final we hope to take part in next Saturday.

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Friday 17th June 2022

If all goes to plan, one week from now bellringers from around the country and even the world will be gathering in Guildford ahead of the long awaited return of arguably the biggest ringing event in the world, the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final. Not just participants, but supporters and those who simply want to be there, including many who will be aiming to avoid the rail strikes on the day itself. The Britannia will apparently have space set aside from 7.30pm, whilst from the same time until 9pm there is planned to be ringing at the nearby 21cwt ten of St Nicholas.

It is due to be but the start of a weekend that - if previous experience is anything to go by - may well end with hungover ringers boosting the numbers at various towers around the town and local area on Sunday morning and/or imparting tales of the previous day.

The competition itself could in theory have been one of the most unpredictable for years after two years of disruption to twelve-bell bands across the UK. However, Birmingham still remain the band to beat, having won three-quarters of the last twenty finals and the peals rung in the second city since ringing's return and the quality of their ringing that won our eliminator at The Norman Tower back in March suggesting they are still the overwhelming favourites. They also include former Exning learner Jimmy Yeoman in their band - it would be lovely to have another Suffolk ringer winning this competition.

Still, it is worth remembering that the holders of the Taylor Trophy (I imagine for longer than they expected when they received it for the first time on home turf three years ago) are currently Exeter and will of course be determined to hold on to it. Other former winners are present and one might expect to be ready to also to step up if the Brummies or the holders fall short. The Cumberlands haven't won it for a quarter of a century, but also rang extremely well in Bury St Edmunds and have an extremely strong band, whilst the College Youths will be confident having been the only other team to come out on top in recent years who have made it to the final this year. Additionally, Bristol (featuring former Suffolk ringer Molly Waterson) and Cambridge have both come close to winning in the last few years and can't be discounted. Perhaps the hosts will use the advantage of their bells and their unique setting to take an unlikely victory?

Meanwhile, Melbourne and Oxford are seasoned finalists (indeed Guildford and ourselves are the only teams in this final who weren't competing on the 72cwt twelve in Devon in 2019), but for whom victory would be a big surprise.

And as for us? Well, we're surprised to be there, but intend to put on our best possible show. If we finish tenth in doing so, it would be no disgrace and we will still be chuffed, but of course we are aiming to finish as high as possible, albeit fully aware we that we won't be troubling the leaders! That said, we thought the same before the eliminator, so...
Whatever the outcome, God willing it'll be a lovely occasion to make friends and catch up with long established ones and hear lots of fantastic twelve-bell ringing.

For today though, the focus was on a more immediate striking competition as we hope to defend the Ridgman Trophy in King's Lynn tomorrow. Our car was returned from its MOT with a relatively clean bill of health, with the only real issue the air conditioning on a day when temperatures soared towards the mid-thirties centigrade, temperatures that have seen the A14 closed at Haughley due to the road surface coming apart and could give us challenges in getting up to north-west Norfolk to compete.

Oulton. Somerleyton. Wissett.
Oulton, Somerleyton & Wissett

No actual ringing for us on this roasting Friday, but there were a couple of quarter-peals rung by the NDA at two of their towers in our county, Oulton and Somerleyton. Additionally there was also a 1260 of Plain Bob at Wissett which was a first of Minor inside for Erika Clarke - well done Erika!

Hopefully there will be lots of well dones in just over a week in Guildford too!

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Thursday 16th June 2022

St Mary-le-Tower. If you are planning on coming to St Mary-le-Tower practice on Monday, then please do note that it is due to start later than usual, at 8pm. This is due to an unfortunate administrative error which we have been apologised to for and assured won't happen again, but is actually for a very good cause as a concert is being held by youngsters to raise money for Ukraine. And we have been given dispensation to finish later.

For the second evening running though, I didn't do any ringing at all, as combining preparing for and then dropping the car off for its MOT with getting the boys to bed afterwards meant I ran out of time for my usual Thursday night eBell focus.

God willing I'll squeeze some ringing in on Monday night, even if I'll have to wait a little bit for it!

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Wednesday 15th June 2022

Football training, a bit of housekeeping with mother-in-law Kate's in her absence, consoling one of the boys when he discovered we'd be away for a birthday party he'd been invited to and then having tea all meant we ran out of time for either of us to help out at Pettistree practice this evening, but there was lots of ringing going on in Suffolk today as four quarter-peals were rung to help gather recordings as part of the centenary celebrations for the Guild due to take place next year.

Cretingham. Dennington. Earl Soham. Tannington. Pettistree.
Cretingham, Dennington, Earl Soham, Tannington & Pettistree

Two Surprise Minor methods were rung at Cretingham, four Doubles methods and Stedman at Dennington, Cambridge Surprise Minor at Earl Soham and three Minor methods at Tannington for what I imagine must have been a very pleasant meander through some of our beautiful countryside on another hot and sunny summer's day. The aforementioned session at Pettistree missed by us was also preceded by the 1280th QP on the bells since rededication in 1986, aptly by a 1280.

Despite our lack of actual ringing, I was pleased to receive my now usual email from College Youths Secretary Simon Meyer with a summary of last night's monthly meeting. It included obituaries for Don Price and further highlighted his achievements in and out of ringing, the minefield of information he imparted and respect he was held in, with words from Stephen Bedford and James Smith attached to the email, the latter of which reminded me of the peal some of us Suffolk ASCYs rang at St Lawrence Jewry in London in 2006 and particularly the history that Don was able to give of the streets we were walking along!

Meanwhile, more information for the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest has appeared through the competition's websites and social media channels. The rail strikes look like they will still be going ahead unfortunately, a disappointing additional challenge to an event that Guildford's ringers have spent years putting together and which has already overcome the significant challenge of a pandemic. In order to work around that, there is now added, cheaper accommodation available at the University of Surrey adjacent to the Cathedral, hopefully making it easier for people to arrive on 24th and depart on the 26th, when there are no rail strikes planned.

There was also some good PR done by the locals on BBC Radio Surrey on Monday, when 3hr 40min 28sec into the afternoon show, the Cathedral's Head of Operations Matt O'Grady speaks with presenter Danny Pike about the contest.

God willing it'll be a very enjoyable day with us doing more ringing than we managed today!

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Tuesday 14th June 2022

Sproughton.There was a ringing link to Lesley Dolphin's 'sofa' guest (since the pandemic I think only one or two of the guests have actually sat on the sofa in the studio as Bruce Wakefield and myself did a few years ago) on her BBC Radio Suffolk show this afternoon, and not just through the fact that the presenter has been a big supporter of local ringing on the airwaves and even learnt to ring as part of a project back in 2009. She was interviewing Ben Woolf, who learnt to ring at Sproughton in my youth. Sadly ringing didn't get a mention, but that wasn't surprising as they reflected on Oak House Farm, which Ben and his wife Georgina took over running from his late father Stephen (and is a place I worked at one summer), as well as his main daytime job and interesting root to his current circumstances. He also hasn't rung for many years, although he rang a quarter-peal as recently at 2015 at his home tower and has rung three peals according to the excellent Pealbase, albeit all for the Warwick University Society back in 1996. His father also learnt to ring, as did his brother Joel, whose one and only peal I rang in at Sproughton in 1997.

Woodbridge. Great Bealings. Buxhall. Pakenham.
Woodbridge, Great Bealings, Buxhall & Pakenham

Although there was no mention of the exercise on the local airwaves, there was plenty to read about locally and with local connections. In the Inside Out magazine for St Mary-the-Virgin church in Woodbridge, where mention is made of the ringing on the 25cwt eight (and chiming of the 7cwt five of Great Bealings which is now linked to St Mary's) over the Platinum Jubilee weekend and there is a report of the band's recent 'Spring Ring', incidentally right above an advert for E.B.Button & Sons Ltd, Ruthie's family's business!
Meanwhile, the latest issue of The Ringing World features much on ringing from within our borders, with a report on Kevin Price's Annual Peal Tour to the area, the first quarter-peal on the augmented eight at Buxhall gets a mention in 'What's Hot on BellBoard' and there is a lovely obituary for Pakenham ringer Joan Tipple written by her son-in-law Steve Munford, complete with a quarter on the anti-clockwise six and a photo of the band who rang in the 1260 of Grandsire Doubles there for her eightieth birthday in 2016.

Offton. Ixworth. Framlingham.
Offton, Ixworth & Framlingham

There was actual ringing going on in the county too, with a pre-practice QP of Double Norwich Court Bob Major at Offton and a 1320 of Norfolk Surprise Minor was rung at Ixworth for Claire Free's birthday, and we also heard the weekly session at Framlingham  whilst on a videocall with my wife's sister, who was in earshot of the 16cwt eight.

None for us though, as instead we watched football on the TV on a day when the men's footy team did rather worse than the men's cricket team. It was much more enjoyable listening to Lesley and Ben!

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Monday 13th June 2022

Southwold.Ringing and pubs go together like fish 'n' chips, with a drink after ringing being an important part of the social aspect of the exercise that encourages many ringers out to the ringing chambers of the county, especially in the cold winter months. Therefore, my attention was naturally drawn to an article I happened across on the East Anglian Daily Times website today, which listed the pub-to-population ratio of Suffolk's towns. Woodbridge comes out pretty well with a tavern for every 1031 residents, but Southwold is at the top of the list with an inn for every 122 people who live in the genteel community. Good news for the ringers of the 10cwt eight of St Edmund King and Martyr. Being essentially a huge housing estate mainly built in the last thirty years, Kesgrave sits at the bottom, both in terms of rings of bells hung for change-ringing, as well as pubs, with just one per nearly 9,500 locals.

Ipswich features nearer to that than Southwold, both geographically and in regards to this league table of hostelries, with one for every 3155 citizens, but there certainly weren't  as many at the Halberd Inn when I sat in the beer garden there this evening! There were a lot of ringers though, following on from a busy practice night at St Mary-le-Tower a few yards down the road, where at its peak twenty-five were present, made up of a range of abilities from extremely experienced on twelve to learners just starting out and one non-ringer offering support to her mother. As such the repertoire was necessarily but pleasingly varied, from rounds to the planned test piece of Stedman Cinques for the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final and although Yorkshire Surprise Maximus didn't make the distance, it was well rung up until its collapse and good experience if we are to get more into Surprise Max once the need to focus so much on Stedman has passed!

There were also a number in the famous ringing chamber to practice the test piece of Erin Caters due to be rung at King's Lynn in The Ridgman Trophy on Saturday, meaning we had the pleasure of the visits of Mike Cowling, Mark Ogden and Tom Scase, as well as Guild Chairman Rowan Wilson. Great to see them all and to have a drink afterwards in one of the pubs of Ipswich we have to share with three thousand others!

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Sunday 12th June 2022

God willing Ruthie and I will be ringing in two of the biggest striking competitions around over the next couple of Saturdays and this afternoon was dedicated to preparing for them.

The Norman Tower & the Cathedral this afternoon.First up, The Ridgman Trophy is due to be held in six days time on the 28cwt ring at King's Lynn Minster in Norfolk, where we are lined up to ring for the Suffolk Guild as we attempt to defend the prize we won at Braintree in October. The test piece is penciled in as a touch of Erin Caters and so some of the band (as I discovered when I was SGR Ringing Master, it is almost impossible to get the entire band from around the county together at the same time) gathered at The Norman Tower for an quarter-peal attempt in the method.

That included my wife, but not me, as we were anxious about subjecting the boys to too much ringing and palming them off on others (although we had a very kind volunteer willing to look after them!), especially as that was the plan for later in the day and so the intention was that they would be spared that as I looked after them. However, having nipped off to deliver a birthday card to sister-in-law and fellow ringer Becky and returning to Bury St Edmunds with this fine ten ringing out in a very decent fashion across the historic town centre bathed in hot summer sunshine, those intentions fell apart as the QP did, just as I passed the ancient tower on the way to the Abbey Gardens with my expectant sons. A text message from Mrs Munnings shortly confirmed that they weren't going for it again and so we ended up in the ringing chamber anyway to that we could practice the planned competition piece a couple of times. It was lovely to finally ring with Ben Keating, whose astonishing drawings have quite right gained a huge following in the ringing community and beyond. If you haven't seen them, then take a look at his website.

St Mary-le-Tower. From there, we were back down the A14 to Ipswich where my mother Sally very generously looked after the brothers and fed them whilst her son and daughter-in-law went to St Mary-le-Tower for our latest practice for the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final that Guildford Cathedral are gearing themselves up to host in just under a fortnight. That touch of Stedman Cinques was rung several times over the hour-and-a-half session and Hawkear studied after each go and it has to be said it went very well, especially given the humid conditions.

Aldeburgh. Meanwhile, the second Sunday peal at Aldeburgh was successfully rung to open the seventy-third Festival of the Music and Arts, as it has done so many times before, whilst earlier in the day my long suffering sons accompanied me to the aforementioned 35cwt twelve in the county town and then to Grundisburgh for service ringing, although that was either side of a treat for them at Costa Coffee. And we completed a busy morning by popping to Ufford to answer a request for the bells to be lowered, with Ringing Master Kate Eagle not around today to do it.

Two at a time, Ruthie and I rang them down striking them as well as we possibly could. You can tell we are in full striking competition mode!

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Saturday 11th June 2022

We are busy, busy bellringers at the moment. Ringing for the Platinum Jubilee, practices for striking competitions and the actual competitions have meant that the boys have been subjected to lots of ringing or handed over to others because of ringing and there is going to be lots of the same over the next couple of weekends.

Therefore, today was a definite non-ringing Saturday, with the day essentially handed over to what the brothers would like to do, within reason!

Ruthie & me with beer at the Rendlesham Show. Unfortunately an afternoon doing more crabbing with Ruthie's sister, other half and her girls was cancelled with one of the boys' cousins feeling poorly, but we still managed football training for Alfie and then later a visit to the Rendlesham Show for lots of bouncy castles, rides, candy floss and ice cream, although it also turned into a treat for my wife and me as we caught up with good friends Toby & Amy and their children and enjoyed a beer!

In between, there was time made for something less exciting, but still important, for all five of us I think, as we laid flowers at the grave of my Dad Alan in the the churchyard of All Saints in Sproughton, where he did so much ringing on the 8cwt gallery-ring six that my brother Chris and I learnt to ring on. Today would've been his seventy-seventh birthday and it offered an opportunity to spend some time thinking of him, nearly two years after he died.

Much like last year when we visited this spot, the boys took it as a chance to play, too young to fully appreciate such moments of reflection, but it was an uplifting counterweight to what could have been a very melancholy occasion. And it gave them a way to enjoy another aspect of this distinctly non-ringing day.

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Friday 10th June 2022


A quite unremarkable day from a ringing perspective countywide and personally, especially in comparison to a week ago. Even our usual weekly virtual drink with Simon Rudd didn't happen, with a lot of the usual crowd on their way to Lundy Island.

I imagine their days should be more remarkable from a ringing perspective over the coming weekend.

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Thursday 9th June 2022

With a determination that method ringing should not be the be all and end all of the exercise, CCCBR President Simon Linford's latest blog from earlier this week gives a focus on call changes and rounds, opening on the launch of ART's Learning the Ropes Advanced Call Change Scheme and his plans to go to his first call change competition in Devon this weekend, and - bar an anecdote about electric scooters - finishing with a story about a band of recruits ringing rounds on six together for the first time over the Platinum Jubilee weekend, an echo of the success at Bramford mentioned earlier in the week in this blog. Personally I hope that there is an ultimate ambition to take every learner as far as they possibly can, but of course the most immediate aim is to get them contributing to service ringing and that is typically at call change level. If that proves to be as far as they get or wish to get, that shouldn't be seen as a failure and then for them to be pushed to the fringes, only getting a proper go when numbers are low. Rather, we should be doing all we can that they get all the opportunities to ring call changes as well as possible - it is preferable to ring well struck call changes to some rough Bristol on a Sunday morning.

I am keen to improve my handbell ringing and hopefully I am a little bit better after my latest solo session on eBells with Wheatley on Ringing Room. Cambridge Surprise Major on 1-2 wasn't great, but unlike when I first started out, I was able to place myself in unsure moments without my brain exploding! And a course of Plain Bob Minor afterwards felt a whole lot easier and was rung a whole lot better.

Hopton.Elsewhere in Suffolk, I imagine the ringing was much more accomplished at Hopton today, with the 1280 of Superlative Surprise Major, whilst I expect there were also some very well struck call changes rung throughout the county.

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Wednesday 8th June 2022

Wilby.Whilst I noted the three thousandth peal of friend Andrew Mills who I have known for years from Rambling Ringers and will be familiar to many in Suffolk as a bellhanger for his work on projects such as Parham and his seven peals for the Guild, it was the forty-third peal of 2022 for the SGR that is most celebrated in this blog, as the 5184 of Cambridge Surprise Major at Wilby took us past the target needed for the end of July to keep us on course for 'Project 10,000'. Much has been made of the downturn in numbers of peals generally since the pandemic, but there have been more peals rung for the Guild this year then up to this point in 2019, the last comparable year.

Pettistree. There was a quarter-peal as well on the the county's bells today with the 1440 of six Surprise Minor methods spliced rung before the practice at Pettistree, a session that I joined after taking Alfie to football training, picking Ruthie up from work and grabbing some tea. Even though I was only there for a relatively short time, I was still able to call some Plain Bob Doubles for Daniel Atkinson to treble to and some Kent Treble Bob Minor and participated in Grandsire Doubles for Sam Shannon, Stedman Doubles and Norfolk Surprise Minor which was so well rung that Mike Cowling proclaimed it was good enough for a striking competition! I'm inclined to agree.

Framlingham.Afterwards some of us enjoyed a drink outside The Greyhound, whilst inside it was pleasingly crowded and included Wickham Market Ringing Master Ray Lewis who yesterday conducted a 1260 of Plain Bob Doubles at Framlingham in celebration of the Platinum Jubilee. Congratulations to the band there and congratulations to Andrew 'Millsy' Mills on three thousand peals.

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Tuesday 7th June 2022

Since Don Price died last month, there have been many words and memories of him imparted by ringers in Suffolk and beyond, via footnotes, social media and indeed from me on this blog. He was a wonderful man to know and ring with. Today though, a more local, personal and in-depth tribute was provided by fellow Southwold ringer Mike Sage. They are lovely words and well worth taking the time to read.

Additionally, Mike mentions that Don's funeral will be a private one, but there is an intention to hold a memorial service at a date to be advised.

Funnily enough, one of the fond memories I have of Don is him turning up at the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final in 2003 at Surfleet in Lincolnshire, a place not blessed with strong public transport links, unlike Guildford, the planned venue for this year's event. However, a fly was thrown into the ointment in that regard today, as it was announced that 25th June is one of the days that the RMT Union has announced there will be a national strike by railway workers. Hopefully the fact that it is also Glastonbury that weekend means there might be more motivation to get things resolved, but even if it isn't, I hope that it doesn't put people off travelling down to the Cathedral for ringing's biggest striking competition.

More immediately though, the Guild's Facebook page announces that there will be no practice at The Norman Tower this Thursday, but also that practices at St Matthew's in Ipswich are due to recommence on the first Thursday of each month, on 7th July.

Offton.Meanwhile, ringing in within our borders for the Platinum Jubilee continued today, with a 1270 of Double Norwich Court Bob Major rung ahead of the weekly session at Offton, which was a first in the method for Mark Ingledew - well done Mark!

Ufford.And after Ruthie had taken the boys out to another birthday party at Play2Day, I was delighted to conduct a well-rung 1250 of Yorkshire Surprise Major at Ufford, which was partly recorded - as were our tryout rounds beforehand from inside the ringing chamber - for some sort of 'soundscape' project, which I hope we will get to hear! Thank you to Grandad Ron for looking after the boys whilst my wife, her mother Kate and myself rang and then aptly left our donations in the box and cabinet constructed with such craftmanship by Don Price.

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Monday 6th June 2022

St Mary-le-Tower. It's not often one goes into a practice night wondering if the Prime Minister would still be in position when one leaves said practice, but that was the case this evening as I went to St Mary-le-Tower's weekly session, as down the A12 in London Boris Johnson was undergoing a vote of confidence in him from his MPs.

Bramford. As it happens, he survives to fight another day, announced pretty much exactly when we'd finished hanging the ropes up at the end of our ringing, but it provided a source of conversation in the Halberd Inn after our efforts, as did the flourishing band at Bramford which some of the SMLT ringers are helping Eric Falla and John Doy with and who were delighted with achieving their initial aim of ringing for the Platinum Jubilee. Now they need a new challenge!

Our own ringing was also progressing nicely this evening, albeit with lower numbers than usual with a handful of ringers not present, including our Ringing Master David Potts on this occasion. Jonathan Williamson did a superb job of running things, with a touch of Plain & Little Bob Caters spliced, Stedman Caters, Cambridge, Bristol and Yorkshire Surprise Royal and Grandsire Cinques all rung well on a good night's ringing, although it was briefly interrupted.

Most of us had passed someone sleeping in the corner at the bottom of the tower on our way in, choosing to let them be, albeit wondering what we would do when it came to locking up. That issue was sorted by a huge clatter and crash from downstairs partway through the Cambridge, leading us to immediately set the bells and myself, Jonathan and George - Lucy Williamson's boyfriend who is learning to ring and doing very well at it too - to descend the stairs to check if they were alright and if anything had been damaged. By the time we got down there, the person had disappeared, with the A-boards that are set up to welcome people into the church scattered on the floor in the corner they had been snoozing in and presumably the source of the noise, perhaps waking them when they fell over or knocked over as they woke. Whilst George picked them up and checked they were undamaged, Jonathan and I went out to the churchyard to see the person climbing over the fence and into the alleyway that goes around it, looking a bit disorientated and walking off into the distance, before we returned to the ringing chamber and started the Cambridge again.

Elsewhere though, after four days of so much ringing it was almost impossible to recount it all on here, there was nothing from within our borders on BellBoard on a quiet day for the county's ringers. I expect Boris Johnson was probably wishing it was a quiet day for him too.

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Sunday 5th June 2022

Inside St Mary-the-Virgin church in Woodbridge before ringing and the service. The final day of what may be the final royal jubilee weekend in this country for many decades and possibly even in the lifetime of most of us saw more celebrations in London and around the country, with a pageant on The Mall, some guy called Ed Sheeran serenading the crowds (and it transpired the 96-year-old Queen as she made a surprise appearance on the balcony after missing all the events from Friday onwards), street parties and Sunday services dedicated to Her Majesty, including one that we attended at Woodbridge that was notable to me for having my first communion wine for over two years and some nibbles and fizzy afterwards.

Checking Hawkear at The Norman Tower during the St Mary-le-Tower practice there. We also returned to ringing, but none of it was directly for the Platinum Jubilee. In between blowing up balloons for that service downstairs, the boys and I climbed the many stairs where the presence of Susanne Eddis and Pete Faircloth wasn't quite enough to ring the 25cwt eight in their entirety, but did allow us to ring some Plain Bob Doubles on the front six. And later we travelled to The Norman Tower for the latest practice for our planned entry into the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest due to be held at Guildford Cathedral in twenty days time, an important opportunity to ring on different bells. I suspect it is more to do with our conscientious practicing and growing confidence, but perhaps the brilliant session this afternoon (if not our best yet then certainly one of the best) was inspired by our presence at the venue where we unexpectedly but deservedly qualified seventy-one days ago. There was some truly superb Stedman Cinques floating out across the ancient streets of Bury St Edmunds' town centre from 2-3.30pm.

Whilst in the area, we decided to pop in and see my brother Chris and his wife Becky, the latter of whom was back from a day of ringing herself, having been to Pakenham, Great Barton and then ringing in a quarter-peal at Bardwell which was Claire Free's first of multiple methods. Well done Claire!

That 1270 of Grandsire & Plain Bob Doubles was one of a trio of QPs rung in Suffolk today, along with the same length at Rushmere St Andrew and a 1320 of Single Oxford Bob Minor at Rougham which was a first in the method for Mark Steggles, Neal Dodge, and Ben Keating - well done Mark, Neal & Ben!

Meanwhile, there was general ringing at Ashbocking, Barham, Barrow, Clopton, Debenham (who were also mentioned on our local BBC radio station this morning), Felixstowe, Haughley (as far as BellBoard records, our busiest tower of the weekend), Henley (well done to Miles Ellis on ringing his first rounds on eight), Horringer, Ixworth, Otley (well done to Jen Ellis on her first backstrokes on her own to call-changes), Tostock and in Ipswich at St Lawrence, St Margaret and St Matthew, whilst the unringable five at Hessett were chimed and 60 changes of Grandsire Doubles were rung on the musical clock at St Clement in the county town, all adding to the ringing from the previous days that have been added since I wrote my blog entries for those days. They can all be found on the Suffolk Guild event for the Platinum Jubilee on BellBoard - there is a lot I am happy to say! Well done to all concerned.

Of course, it is perfectly possible that in five years we shall be celebrating an even more impressive seventy-five years of Queen Elizabeth II's reign and maybe in a decade we'll be marking her Oak Jubilee, but there did seem to be a sense that this will be the last Royal event of this magnitude for a long, long time. If that is the case, I think ringing in Suffolk definitely made the most of this final big hurrah!

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Saturday 4th June 2022

Melton Fete. Melton Fete. Melton Fete.
Melton Fete

Day three of the Platinum Jubilee celebration weekend and although the Queen has been unable to join the celebrations, we joined them on her behalf at Melton Recreation Ground as we went along to the village fete, which formed a central part of the community's marking of this significant occasion. It was a lovely event featuring dog agility tests, belly dancers and face painting, as well as Pettistree ringers Pippa Moss and Mike Whitby and was neatly sandwiched in between a chilly football training session for Alfie this morning and a BBQ at the home of our friends Verity and Jade round the corner from ours this afternoon and evening.

Much like Thursday, it didn't involve any ringing, but also like Thursday and also Friday there was much going on elsewhere in Suffolk. Again there was a pleasing mix of general ringing, quarter-peals and peals. There was ringing across the county, at Campsea Ashe, Cowlinge, Haughley, Horham, Stradishall and a couple of entries at Redgrave, whilst quarter-peals were rung at Hitcham and Stradbroke, the latter of which saw Chrissie Pickup and Philip Gorrod ringing their one hundredth QP together. Congratulations Chrissie and Philip! And there was a peal at The Norman Tower of Elizabeth R Surprise Royal, a Yorkshire-above construction and generally themed on the familiar method, but still not entirely straightforward, so well done to all ringing in this 5070.

Church of St Mary Le Bow, 2001 Further afield, there were lots of peals from Exeter to Inveraray, Minimus to Maximus, but if you are on Facebook (and possibly even if you're not), you can view and listen to the band ringing the 5070 of Stedman Cinques at St Mary-le-Bow yesterday. An absolutely marvelous example of a band just getting on and ringing at the same pace as each other, rather than worrying about speed or how fast the bells 'should' be rung at.

It has thus far been a good weekend of ringing, whether it be day one, day two or day three, and we are still due to have day four to celebrate.

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Friday 3rd June 2022

When I awoke this morning to the news that a man had been stabbed in Ipswich town centre, my initial reaction was naturally of horror that such a thing had happened on the familiar streets of the town I grew up in, albeit that this was sadly not the first time an incident of this nature had happened in the county town. My next thought was of concern for the peal attempt I was in this morning at St Mary-le-Tower, alongside Tower Street which was one of two streets closed off for police investigations.. Immediately, the annoyance that we couldn't park in the Citizens Advice car park as it is a Friday was diminished, as that was well within the cordon and out of bounds anyway, although I had decided to travel in by train. However, one wondered whether if we could get to the church at all to ring, with memories of Southwark Cathedral being out of bounds for several days to churchgoers,  local ringers and bands booked in to practice for the approaching 2017 National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final after the dreadful London Bridge attacks already rekindled on the fifth anniversary of that particular tragedy today.

St Lawrence in Ipswich with the police presence in the background. The scene at St Mary-le-Tower this morning. The scene at St Mary-le-Tower this morning.
The scene outside St Lawrence and St Mary-le-Tower this morning

Our fears were allayed on arrival though, along with news that the poor man who was the victim of the attack wasn't facing anything life-threatening. There was still access to the church from the south and east gates of the churchyard and the police officers guarding the area had been consulted and had no objections to our plans to attempt a 5070 of Stedman Cinques. The vicar the Reverend Tom Mumford had very kindly come to meet us to say a prayer for our efforts, as well as let us into the toilet facilities, including going back to let one of the band out after Ian Culham and myself had innocently given Tom the all clear!

We hoped from there to give the police outside three-and-a-half hours of top class twelve bell ringing as a backdrop to their investigations and of course to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee, but unfortunately that wasn't to be. They got over an hour of almost spotless ringing and confident assured conducting from Colin Salter, before Stedman did what Stedman does. The briefest of hesitations on the front sowed seeds of doubt into the minds of those coming down to join them, myself included, and as so often in this principle it had collapsed within a few changes with bells swapped when we came out of the mess.

For a few minutes we licked our wounds and discussed our next move. I think most reading this know how much I dislike going for quarter-peals after a lost peal attempt. The main focus is lost, you just want a drink to drown your sorrows or get on with the rest of your day and there is an element of going through the motions to get something considerably less than you came for, even more so on hot days like today after a substantial amount of ringing. However, this is such a unique occasion that we really wanted the Civic Church of Ipswich to have something to have marked the event on its bells, the heaviest in Suffolk and so we went for and scored a very decent 1346 of Cambridge Surprise Maximus.

Still, we were disappointed not to have achieved our ultimate aim, not least for Tom, who is keen to have his name on a pealboard! Nonetheless, today marked real progress. All bar Simon Rudd are in the local band and I don't believe this is something we could've have contemplated two or three years ago, yet today we could've been one of just four peals of Stedman Cinques on a very busy day of ringing nationwide, with the others rung at no less than St Mary-le-Bow and St Paul's Cathedral in London and York Minster. With the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final due to take place at Guildford Cathedral later this month in mind, it was also a very useful experience. If we needed it, it reminded us that Stedman Cinques can go very badly wrong very quickly and so on the day we will need to concentrate fully for every blow, but it also reassures us that we only need to do that for less than fifteen minutes rather than over three-and-a-half hours! And ultimately we did drown our sorrows in cheerful fashion at the Halberd Inn, or rather in the beer garden.

Trying to retrieve the second rope at Woodbridge after it had slipped wheel at ringing for the Platinum Jubilee.Having come in on the train, I was then grateful to Ruthie and the boys for picking me up after they too had had a morning out that involved ringing, at Woodbridge where my wife helped man the eight either side of sorting out the rope on the second after it had slipped wheel, before they then enjoyed refreshment and cake in an apparently magnificently decorated church.

Our ringing was just the tip of the iceberg in regards to all that was happening on bells within our borders today though. A successful peal was rung at Bures, whilst QPs of Cambridge Surprise Minor at Earl Stonham, Plain Bob Triples at Halesworth, another of Cambridge Surprise Minor at Pettistree, Jubilee Delight Minor (the quarter) at Tostock and Doubles at Wickham Market were scored. Well done to Keith Dennis on ringing his first on eight inside in the success on the 18cwt ground-floor octave in the North-East District, to Andrea Alderton on ringing her first of Jubilee Delight Minor and to Jonathan Cottrell on ringing his first on the treble in the last of those quarters, which was also Richard Ellis' first in the medium completely. Many congratulations Richard! Additionally, there was also general ringing recorded on BellBoard at Beccles, Bramford, Brandeston, Buxhall, Dalham, Easton, Falkenham, Haughley (where there was also some ringing yesterday), Haverhill, Ingham and Kettleburgh, whilst Paul Stannard chimed the 14th century 2cwt bell at Denham near Bury St Edmunds. Brilliant work by all!

The rest of our day involved more chores though, most notably with Ruthie washing the car, but we did catch up with ringing friends, as we joined Simon - fresh back from Ipswich - for his weekly virtual pub this evening where much was imparted about what those 'present' are up to over this weekend.

It's just a pity that we couldn't join it all with a peal, especially after overcoming the challenges thrown our way on the streets of Ipswich.

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Thursday 2nd June 2022

A Platinum Jubilee. An unprecedented, historic celebration, the like of which we almost certainly won't see again in the lifetime of most of us and likely in anyone's lifetime. Four days have been set aside to mark it with church services, pageants and concerts. So how did we spend the first day of this momentous weekend? Well, cutting the grass and doing the garden of course.

The extra bank holiday and glorious hot weather did lend itself to such a job for us when Thursdays would usually be occupied with the school run, work and recovering from said tasks and weekends have been taken up by football and ringing in recent months. However, it was all done to the backdrop of the Jubilee celebrations, dipping in and out of the Trooping the Colour on the TV as we sought breaks, refreshment and shade and looking to the skies for the flypast of seventy aircraft flying over Suffolk on their way to Buckingham Palace, although in vain as they flew too low and too far east for us to see them beyond the buildings and trees surrounding us, even though we heard them minutes before they appeared over London in front of the watching world!

The lit beacon at Melton Park. And we did make one event as the boys and I wandered down to Melton Park for this evening's lighting of the village beacon, where we bumped into fellow Pettistree ringers Pippa Moss and Mike Whitby and the boys played football, which occupied them when the advertised lighting time of 9.15pm was put back to 9.45pm, although at least it allowed Ruthie to watch it lit with us after her choir practices.

In between it all, I made my first visit to Dad's sister Aunty Marian in her temporary abode of Bluebird Lodge in Ipswich, where the occasion merited party hats and ginger biscuits, but was also a depressing throwback as along with my mother Sally I donned a mask and disposable apron & gloves. Still, it was lovely to see her again and chat ringing with this former ringer.

Clare. Euston. Great Thurlow. Hawkedon. Lavenham. Little Thurlow. Poslingford. Stansfield. Woolverstone. Bardwell. Woolpit. Great Barton. The Norman Tower. Chediston. Whepstead. Great Finborough.

We did no ringing though, albeit we hope to be doing a fair bit in the coming days. Unsurprisingly though, there was lots of ringing going on, including here in the county. There was general ringing going on at Clare, Euston, Great Thurlow, Hawkedon, Lavenham, Little Thurlow, Poslingford, Stansfield and Woolverstone, a 672 of Cambridge Surprise Major was rung at Bardwell, 240 of Plain Bob Minor scored at Woolpit, an apt length of 1270 of Doubles was successful at Great Barton and further quarter-peals were notched of Grandsire Triples at The Norman Tower, PB Minor at Chediston and Doubles at Whepstead, whilst a 1320 and 264 of Jubilee Delight Minor were rung at Great Finborough and I am aware of an outing that took its participants from Leiston to Aldeburgh. Lots of superb band photos on BellBoard too!

And in the honours list announced today, it was great to a couple of ringers being recognised, with John Davidge of Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire awarded the BEM for services to ringing, whilst Geoff Pullin of Northamptonshire and a former President of the Peterborough Diocesan Guild was given the same honour for services to the community in Badby, where he regularly rings on the 14cwt six.

It was certainly a more memorable way for them to start the Platinum Jubilee weekend then ours!

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Wednesday 1st June 2022

There was a heartwarming peal rung for the Guild today. 1st June is the birthday Adrian 'Arnie' Knights, one of Suffolk's finest ringers, an event typically celebrated with a peal of Bristol Surprise Major to composition of an appropriate length composed by his good friend Brian Whiting. Arnie has usually rung in them in the past, but sadly ill-health has prevented him from participating for five years, when a 5070 was rung for his seventieth birthday, in what transpired to be the last of his 1055 peals altogether.

Felixstowe Peal Band.Wonderful not only then to see a 5075 at Felixstowe for his seventy-fifth birthday in the first of these rung for his birthday for three years (although a 1274 of two Major methods was rung on handbells last year and 73 changes of Plain Bob Minor was rung on Ringing Room in 2020), but that Adrian was able to join the band for a photo afterwards.

Horringer. It wasn't the only peal rung for his significant landmark, as former Suffolk ringers John Loveless and Simon Rudd rang in a 5152 of Cooktown Orchid Delight Major (a method devised by Ipswich ringer James Smith) at Llantilio Crossenny in Wales on the East meets West Peal Tour, before conductor Simon then impressively joined some of the Felixstowe peal band back within our borders for a quarter-peal of London Surprise Major at Horringer.

Pettistree. That wasn't the only QP in the county today, with a 1296 of Beverley Surprise Minor rung at Pettistree, prior to a practice that I briefly joined following more football training for Alfie, once I'd gone to the right place! Despite a number of regulars being missing from ringing, there was a pretty decent turnout and a still eclectic method repertoire from Plain Hunt on Five for new quarter-peal ringer Daniel Atkinson to Norwich Surprise Minor, before we retired to The Greyhound for a drink.

Happy Birthday Arnie!

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Tuesday 31st May 2022

Today was the first day of the 2022 Suffolk Show. We had considered going along, but it's proving to be an expensive year for one reason and another and with the weather forecast pretty uncertain, spending £60 to get in before we even spend anything on the stuff onsite seemed a bit much for something that we couldn't be sure the boys would enjoy. Still, every time the Show is on, I am reminded of the gloriously sunny day in 2011 as I helped man The Vestey Ring at Trinity Park. It was a hugely successful day topped by the first quarter-peal on the bells, but importantly which saw hundreds have a go and thousands see and hear us. Sadly, we haven't been back since. Eleven years ago we were a part of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich's tent, but I think the noise was a bit much for those volunteering for them and as I understand it, the cost of having a tent for ourselves is too prohibitive. Nonetheless, wouldn't it be wonderful to have a presence of some sort at the 2023 Show in the Guild's centenary year?

St Matthew. Sproughton.That would be great publicity, as is the video I saw today from the Churches Conservation Trust promoting ringing and ringing 'Taster Days' in conjunction with the CCCBR. It is a slick production featuring lots of enthusiastic youngsters and will hopefully catch the eye!
Meanwhile, Happy Silver Wedding Anniversary to Sproughton Ringing Master Ralph Earey and his wife and fellow ringer at All Saints, Tessa, which was celebrated with a quarter-peal at their home tower on this last day of May. Along with that of Jonathan & Sue Williamson, this is a marriage made in ringing and more specifically in the ringing chamber of St Matthew's in Ipswich where Tessa and Sue were among the large number of learners from the congregation there that Ralph and Jonathan taught. It is lovely also that both marriages have led to ringing children too, with Lucy Williamson a member of the the band due to ring in the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final at Guildford Cathedral for Ipswich with her father and Ellie Earey ringing in today's celebratory 1260 of Plain Bob Minor on the 8cwt gallery-ring six that I learnt to ring on, something that Ralph was a huge part of. Congratulations Ralph & Tess!

Blythburgh. Another significant life landmark was being celebrated with a QP as Erika Clarke rang the second at Blythburgh in a quarter of Plain Bob Doubles after her last day at work following retirement, which was Mike Bostock-Smith's first on a working bell. Well done Mike!

Even if there wasn't anything at the Suffolk Show, there was much to be celebrated in the art elsewhere in the county.

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Monday 30th May 2022

You can tell that it's half-term and that the Suffolk Show and a Jubilee are lined up as the weather has got chilly and wet, perhaps no more so than tonight as I travelled back from Ipswich in a torrential downpour, a difficult journey back then made even harder by having to zig zag around Woodbridge with the rest of the A12 traffic to get home with the town's bypass closed for roadworks.

The Platinum Jubilee is one of two big ringing occasions planned for June hugely anticipated by many, the other being the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final that the ringers of Guildford are readying themselves for on the 25th. On the former, much ringing is lined up at many towers, with the ambition in the South-East District being to get as many - if not all - towers ringing at some point over the celebrations for example. Understandably then, with more bells then ringers in the county, there are various calls going out for help, including on the Guild's Facebook page. If you do need assistance, please do use the network of members at the SGR's disposal and put something on the FB page and/or let Webmaster Chris Garner know so he can email the membership.

Out the front of Guildford Cathedral, where the beer tent is due to be for the Final. Meanwhile, the competition for the Taylor Trophy booked in for twenty-six days time is a huge event in its own right and depending on location and weather, hundreds and even a thousand or more can be in attendance from across the country and indeed the world. The Surrey town has certainly got the location, being easy to get to by public and private transport for a large proportion of the UK and the cathedral has the space both indoors and out in its vast grounds, especially outside the west end of the cathedral. Obviously none of us can do anything about the weather though! That it is the first Final for three years further adds to the anticipation and from a Suffolk and personal perspective, the fact that Ipswich is one of the ten teams due to take part takes the excitement levels up multiple notches and we're praying for a wonderful day showcasing national and Suffolk ringing and meeting friends and making new ones.

Southwold. Stoke by Clare.Of course it isn't the only ringing event penciled in for the forthcoming month or even on that day and whilst I encourage people to come down to Guildford to cheer us on and/or take in the atmosphere, if you can't then please do watch the live broadcast that Matthew Tosh and his team have so successfully done and plan to do again this year from the contest's YouTube channel, but take time out to support the North-East District Meeting at Southwold. Then once the broadcast has finished, you should have time to go to the South-West District on the 13cwt ground-floor six of Stoke by Clare from 7.30-9 on what one prays will be a lovely midsummer's evening.

A week before that there is even another striking competition in what is hoped to be a busy couple of weekends for some of us, as the Guild looks to defend The Ridgman Trophy it won at Braintree in October when a band plans to traverse its way to King's Lynn for this year's contest, which sees East Anglian ten-bell bands representing the territorial ringing organisations that border the Ely Diocesan Association. Again, please fell free to come along to take it all in, even if you're not ringing.

In between that and the following weekend, the 21st is marked - as it has been since 2017 - as Suffolk Day, a day that has traditionally offered much good PR for local ringing. It falls on a Tuesday this year which makes it trickier to get ringers together during the day due to work, but hopefully plenty of ringing will be happening, which I'm sure SGR Public Relations Officer Neal Dodge would love to hear about.

Oakley. Helesworth. Rumburgh.
Oakley, Helesworth & Rumburgh

More ringing still is planned for earlier in the month too, with Saturday 11th earmarked for the North-West District Meeting at Oakley from 10am to noon, whilst my mother has booked ringing at Halesworth and Rumburgh either side of a pub meal for Midweek Ringing on Tuesday 14th and would be most grateful if you could let her know if you would like to join them for the meal as soon as possible. Last month's return of this fixture was apparently very successful and it is a lovely way to spend a weekday.

All that is the hoped for future though, but in the here and now, the reason for me travelling back from Ipswich in the rain was not surprisingly because I was coming back from the weekly practice at St Mary-le-Tower. Much like last week we were a little short on numbers, but we still rang Grandsire Cinques on twelve and on ten there was another impressive repertoire of Stedman Caters and Cambridge, Bristol & Lincolnshire Surprise Royal, whilst we also did some rounds on ten for learner Jacob, as we continue to try to incorporate ringers of all stages of the ringing ladder. We were also delighted to welcome in a young family who apparently regularly come to listen from downstairs, to watch us ring and also go upstairs to see the tenor turned over. It is a reminder that for all that ringing occasionally get complaints, for many the sound of bells is a joy and a reassurance.

Our efforts were topped off by a drink round the well at the Halberd Inn, before I made my way out into that rain. God willing the weather will improve in the coming days.

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Sunday 29th May 2022

This afternoon was the latest practice for the Ipswich band ahead of the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final due to take place in twenty-seven days, as we returned to St Mary-le-Tower following our important visit to the planned competition venue of Guildford Cathedral last Sunday. For some reason - perhaps the grey, wet weather - everything felt a little flat though and it was generally considered not to be our finest practice, although that says a lot about how the competition has helped raise our standards as the session was actually a pretty decent one-and-a-half hour's ringing of the test piece of Stedman Cinques several times over, clearly getting better and better.

Besides, to an extent in the context of this, it isn't necessarily the main purpose of these practices, as much as of course we are aiming to ring as well as possible each time. It isn't on this set of familiar bells that we already typically ring very well that we will be competing, which is why the practice of a week ago was so vital. However, every opportunity to ring the competition touch is invaluable in order that on the day it is as familiar as possible, so that we can concentrate on the striking as much as we can, as well as help us get back right again quickly in case the worse case ringing scenario happens. To that end therefore, this was still extremely useful practice, listened to by former Tower ringer George Salter and his girlfriend Rachel outside in the churchyard.

An example of the rising standards here was the ringing this morning. There can't be too many places where for service ringing on the Sabbath morn the repertoire includes the Lincolnshire Surprise Royal I was given the tenor to as soon as I arrived (late of course!) and Stedman Cinques either side of the Little Bob Maximus that sounded very nice from the nearby toilets when one of the boys had a call of nature!

Clopton.Following post-ringing refreshment in Costa Coffee, the boys and I then made our way to Clopton where ringing for the Carlford Churches benefice was taking place on this fifth Sunday of the month. This remains one of my favourite rings of bells in the county and I think David Stanford has done a tremendous job teaching a band here and continues to do so, especially when one considers all that the last two years have thrown at them and other similar bands, with the walls adorned with ART certificates amongst the various peal boards. It is also a pretty unique ringing chamber, with no windows letting natural light in, but a grill in the middle of the floor that allows the ringers to see parishioners making their way into the church through this tower that doubles up as the porch (as the tower at Burgh yards down the B1079 does too) and therefore also the public to watch the ringing from below.

There was a large crowd there too and it was lovely to ring with Adrian Craddock for the first time for years as he did his first ringing for a while, and collectively it allowed us to ring call-changes and Plain Bob Doubles on this lovely 11cwt six.

Pettistree. Hollesley.Whilst we ended up shopping for shinpads for Alfie and dodging downpours on the way into the county town for the practice, others were ringing within our borders, with a 1272 of Norwich Surprise Minor at Pettistree and most notably a 1260 of Plain Bob Doubles at Hollesley, which was Daniel Atkinson's first quarter-peal. Congratulations Daniel!

Here's hoping we're congratulating ourselves on a good effort in the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final too, and if so it will largely be because of all that practicing!

Saturday 28th May 2022

I am a ringing football fan.

Often the two weave in and out with each other, but today, unusually for Saturdays in recent weeks, this was a day where we did no ringing at all and did nothing vaguely ringing-related. It was very much a day themed on the latter and excitedly so this morning as completely unexpectedly, a new child appeared at Alfie's football training with an increasingly famous father. That father was none other than Kieran McKenna, who has made quite an impact since taking up his first managerial role in the game as manager at Ipswich Town in December. He is tipped to be a big name in the sport (with or without the Tractor Boys) and has learnt his trade coaching at Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United working directly with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and now he was watching a training session featuring Alfred whilst I chatted to the Northern Ireland man about footy, his family, my family, Woodbridge and their new home. AJM was absolutely made up and to be fair, so was I! Mr McKenna seemed very impressed with the set-up and sounds like he may well be present for future sessions too, so he might become a more familiar sight there, at least until his Saturdays start getting busy again as the 2022/23 season approaches.

Crabbing at a cloudy Bawdsey Quay. Our afternoon wasn't football related, but still didn't involve any ringing as we went crabbing at a cloudy Bawdsey Quay with Ruthie's sister Clare, her other half Chris and the boys' cousins, but elsewhere there was ringing in Suffolk as Bures ringer David Reeve was remembered with a quarter-peal of Plain Bob Triples on the 21cwt anticlockwise eight, with his daughter Claire fittingly ringing the treble.

Further afield, there was Suffolk representation in the headline performance of the world of ringing as one-time Exning learner Jimmy Yeoman rang in the 5019 of Stedman Cinques at Kidderminster in Worcestershire that very impressively was the first peal for the daughter of CCCBR President Simon Linford Charlie on her fifteenth birthday. Congratulations Charlie!

Meanwhile, every single Annual Report in the Guild's ninety-nine year history is now scanned and available to read on this website. It has been an extraordinary task undertaken by SGR Public Relations Officer Neal Dodge and South-East District Chairman Mark Ogden and allows us to easily take in the snapshots of the organisation from 1923, the war years, the rebuilding of the membership numbers under George Pipe and Howard Egglestone in the 1960s and 1970s and more recently how its members got through the pandemic. Set aside some time though, because you'll likely get drawn into more than you intend to once you start looking through them!

There was no opportunity for us to indulge in such time-travelling though, as a busy day climaxed with more football, as we - including a very excited Alfie - watched on TV as the Champions League Final in Paris was played between Liverpool and the ultimate 1-0 winners Real Madrid, which prompted a joke from Norwich ringer Jon Spreadbury on Facebook. "How do we know Jurgen Klopp is a bellringer? Treble's going... Treble's gone."

Something only a ringing football fan is likely to get.

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Friday 27th May 2022

The Ringing World.This week's copy of The Ringing World is heavily themed on the forthcoming planned Platinum Jubilee, which is also the reason why it is a double issue, an unusual move outside of Christmas and New Year, but understandable with the reduced office time and likely delays on post due to the three-day working week we are due to have after this weekend.

However, there is also a three-page spread from the Guildford ringers on the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final that is due to take place at the Cathedral in less than a month's time. Much information imparted can be found on the event's website, but there is also some more in depth and interesting background to the venue and hosts. It also gives an indirect link to Suffolk's ringing in this bumper edition, although an account from Ipswich St Margaret Ringing Master John Girt of his ringing for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II gives a more direct connection with ringing in the county.

The whole edition is a good read, but we didn't do any ringing ourselves today, with the closest we got being Simon Rudd's weekly Friday night virtual pub where conversation veered from theatres to where one St Mary-le-Tower put their Fitbit to shapes made by GPS on runs and bike rides. Even ringing was mentioned, including the Essex Association 'First Pealer's Club', which also features in the latest issue of The RW and how many QPs we've rung. It appears from BellBoard that I have rung at least 404, although I'm pretty sure the first one in 1988 (two-and-a-half years before my actual first one) was probably my Grandad R J 'Jack' Munnings and not me!

Ashbocking. Horringer. Meanwhile, congratulations to South-East District Ringing Master Jenny Scase and her husband Robert on very nearly forty years of marriage, a landmark noted by the 1440 of Plain Bob Minor at Ashbocking, whilst a 1280 of Xian Surprise Major rung at Horringer yesterday was uploaded to the site this afternoon and adds to the North-West District Quarter-Peal Fortnight. Well done to all the band on ringing their first in this Yorkshire-above method, an achievement that all being well should appear in The Ringing World in the near future.

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Thursday 26th May 2022

Following my recounting of my eBell ringing on this blog, a couple of ringers have very kindly offered to subject themselves to a handbell quarter-peal attempt with me. It's hard to tell if I'm ready for such a step as I haven't done any touches of anything in hand, so trying Yorkshire or anything like that would be ambitious, but perhaps Plain Bob Minor might be realistic. Therefore this evening whilst Ruthie was choiring, my solo session on Ringing Room was focused on lots of PB6 on 1-2 and I have to admit to be being pleased with my efforts. Whether it is good enough for me to try for my first QP attempt on handbells may need to be tested out now.

It was the only ringing from within Suffolk that I can report upon on a day where the other main highlight (apart from time spent with family of course!) of the day was a lunch of pizza, pavlova and cheesecake in the office being held as a celebration for something work-related not interesting enough even to go into here.

That said, it set me up nicely for my Plain Bob Minor eBell focus this evening though!

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Wednesday 25th May 2022

With Alfie's football training again the focus of the first part of our Wednesday evening, it was a relatively brief stint for me at Pettistree practice in the second part of the evening once we'd also sorted baths and bed for the boys and tea for us.

Nonetheless, despite not arriving until after 8pm on this occasion, there was still time for me to catch Mike Whitby & Pippa Moss before they left assuring me it was nothing personal, call 120 of Plain Bob Doubles from the third, ring in Plain Hunt on five from the second whilst occasionally helping in guiding Hollesley learner Daniel on the treble, conducted a plain course of Carlisle Surprise Minor from the tenor and participated in some Stedman Doubles from the fifth with Mark Ogden putting the calls in, before ringing the fourth in the lowering of the bells at the end of the session.

It was all topped off with a roaring fire and a drink in The Greyhound, where the increasingly late sunset gave the timbered walls a pink hue as we made our way there across the churchyard, and conversation ranged from the architectural merits of the Cathedrals at Guildford and Liverpool and ringing at Pershore Abbey, where they appear to ring a lot for their fruit and veg!

Earlier a quarter-peal of Rossendale Surprise Minor was rung on the ground-floor six, whilst elsewhere in Suffolk but within the boundaries of the Norwich Diocesan Association at Lowestoft, the Guild was ringing a peal of six Surprise Major methods spliced.

With work and football training though, I can't imagine either of us will be joining in with quarter-peal or peal ringing on Wednesdays anytime soon.

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Tuesday 24th May 2022

CCCBR President Simon Linford's sixtieth blog entry is mainly focused on areas related to the health of the art future, present and past, looking forward to a potential recruitment campaign, to the now with an interview with a young New Zealand ringer and back at the interesting results of the 1988 Survey of Ringers. He also points out that a new Library Steward for the Central Council needs to be found, as does a home for the library, whilst explaining why hippos won't allow him to house it! As usual, well worth a read for entertainment and informative reasons.

Offton. Ixworth. We weren't doing any actual ringing ourselves today though, but elsewhere within our borders others were, with the pre-practice 1280 of Rutland & Superlative Surprise Major spliced at Offton remembering Don Price and 1260 of Plain Bob Triples at Ixworth rung in memory of Brian Hale and also for the North-West District Quarter-Peal Fortnight. Well done to Mark Ingledew on ringing his first of Surprise Major spliced in the former and to Serena Steggles on ringing her first on eight in the latter.

Good to see the present in Suffolk looking healthy!

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Monday 23rd May 2022

Yesterday was a roasting hot late spring day, ideal for sitting outside Cathedrals, taking in views across Guildford and its surroundings and enjoying barbecues.

Today, it pretty much rained to varying degrees from getting up to ready the household for work and school to me returning from Ipswich in the dark at the end of the evening.

The only time the sun did break out was on my journey into the county town for the weekly St Mary-le-Tower Monday session and it has to be said that the feelgood mood from our practice in Surrey for the National Twelve-Bell Final carried over into tonight with a jovial but focused atmosphere.

We were missing a handful from Sunday's band in part due to the long day that it transpired to be, but with London ringer Janet Archibald visiting for a second week we still managed Grandsire Cinques and Little Bob Maximus on twelve, Stedman Caters, Cambridge Surprise and Lincolnshire Surprise Royal on ten and a touch of the 'standard' eight Surprise Major methods spliced on the front eight, as well as some rounds for learners Judy and Jacob, before we retired to the Halberd Inn for post-ringing refreshment.

Meanwhile, Don Price was again remembered with another handbell peal for the Guild, as a 5040 of Plain Bob Major was rung in Bury St Edmunds. Presumably it wasn't rung outside though!

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Sunday 22nd May 2022

The theme of today's blog is views from ringing chambers.

View from Woodbridge's ringing chamber.In my humble opinion, the finest view from a bell rope in Suffolk is off the tenor box at Woodbridge which watches the River Deben meander off towards Bawdsey, Felixstowe Ferry and the North Sea, but I don't get the chance very often to take it in as usually it is fairly impractical to get the 16cwt seventh and 25cwt eighth up in the limited time they have on a Sunday morning and so typically the front six are rung. When the rope slipped the wheel on the second during the first piece of ringing though, it seemed a shame to have to ring just five of the front six with seven ringers present and so Susanne Eddis and myself decided to get the back two up as quickly as possible and hence I got the opportunity to take in that magnificent view.

I did ring it down again afterwards before descending the many stairs to the service we were ringing for, where we stayed long enough for Ruthie to help her choral colleagues sing an anthem before we inconspicuously snuck out as we needed to get to our next spectacular view from a ringing chamber by 2pm. For this afternoon was the one and only practice that St Mary-le-Tower are allowed at Guildford Cathedral ahead of the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final due to take place there on Saturday 25th June.

Much like local striking competitions such as yesterday's Guild Six-Bells, this should be a fun occasion, with the emphasis on socialising and gathering ringers together, but when one is travelling 130 miles to compete in a contest where the eyes and ears of a large proportion of the world of ringing will be watching and listening, and dedicating so much time to practicing as we are, then one has to take it slightly more seriously. Therefore, the opportunity to visit the competition venue is vitally important, especially when the bells are so unfamiliar, as this 30cwt twelve were to all bar Colin Salter who rang here regularly during his student days. Indeed, many had never rung here at all, including us and so this was our chance to experience these unfamiliar surroundings for the first time.

Out the front of Guildford Cathedral, where the beer tent is due to be for the Final. Guildford Cathedral West Front & SMLT Band. Guildford Cathedral East Front & SMLT Band.

We're glad we took that opportunity too. The Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit is not a particularly pretty building by most cathedral standards, built as it was less than a century ago, but it is imposing in almost every sense. That includes the long driveway up the hill to it and the grounds out the front of the west end, where the beer tent, BBQ and children's play area are planned to be set up for 25/6 and where we met the rest of the Ipswich squad in roasting hot weather that we'll be delighted to have in thirty-four days time.

The Ringing Chamber.  View from my rope at Guildford Cathedral. View towards Guildford from the balcony on the east side of the tower at the Cathedral.

It also includes the ringing chamber, a large, daunting room and the main spot that we needed to experience now rather than on contest day. The danger with a setting like this is that you feel like you are ringing a much heavier ring, but in fact these are lighter than we are used to at St Mary-le-Tower. Additionally, with such a big space surrounded by brick and concrete, the acoustics are very different too, with a lot of sound bouncing around that you have to learn to cut out. Quite simply, it would all have been too much to take in and get used to in the fifteen minutes practice on the day.

Additionally though, the hour-and-a-half session we had, as well as the ten minutes beforehand as we caught our breath following the substantial climb, allowed us to explore the impressive views that can be had from the balconies that adorn each side of the ringing chamber, including the one I could see from my bell looking west. From the various vantage points, much could be seen from the Cathedral's position atop Stag Hill, from the town below and even the City of London in the very far distance. It is a breathtaking location.

According to the host's own website, we are the second team to travel down to practice, after Melbourne went there a fortnight ago, but the third team weren't far behind us as the favourites Birmingham were arriving as we were leaving, allowing us to do some more catching up with old friends like Fran Dodds, Mark Eccleston, Stef & John Warboys and Vicky & Michael Wilby.

We had time to get back to Suffolk for a BBQ at the abode of mother-in-law Kate, who had very kindly looked after the boys for the day, taking them to morning ringing at Pettistree and even Alfie to a birthday party, which was probably preferable to them being dragged all the way down to Surrey for another boring bellringing practice!

Meanwhile, there was more ringing going on in the county in our absence, with another QP for the North-West Quarter-Peal Fortnight and in memory of Don Price with the 1346 of Yorkshire Surprise Maximus at The Norman Tower, as well as the last ringing on the 16cwt eight at St Gregory's in Sudbury prior to their rehanging, with a 1260 of Plain Bob Triples that was also dedicated to the hard work in leading the project of Pauline Brown, who fittingly was ringing the treble.

Also ringing was Guild PR Officer Neal Dodge who today shared a video of the 120 changes of Cambridge Surprise Minor that St Mary-le-Tower rang to win The Mitson Shield at Blythburgh yesterday. Where the views of the stunning surroundings are wonderful, even if not from the ground-floor ringing chamber.

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Saturday 21st May 2022

Blythburgh. I'll admit to feeling a little nervous ahead of today's Guild Six-Bell Striking Competitions at Blythburgh. These weren't the nerves that are perfectly natural before ringing in such a contest and which I still have even after all the competitions I've competed in, from the four-bell to raise money for the Campsea Ashe project a few years ago to the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final. Rather, when Ringing Master Katharine Salter mentioned as recently as last Sunday that she had only had three entries, I was nervous that we would be greeted with a very sorry, sparse scene at this stunning location.

The draw for the Guild Six-Bell Striking Competitions at Blythburgh. The draw for the Guild Six-Bell Striking Competitions at Blythburgh. The draw for the Guild Six-Bell Striking Competitions at Blythburgh. Running order. The Ringing Chamber.
The Draw, The Running Order & The Ringing Chamber

As it happened though, having negotiated an A12 that is appalling north of Wickham Market, we made it to this beautiful village sadly cut in half by one of Suffolk's main trunk roads to find a sizeable crowd awaiting the draw for the running order in the church for eight teams representing three of the Guild's four Districts. Clearly not as many as the twelve who competed three years ago when we last met to compete for the Mitson Shield and Lester Brett Call-Change Trophy in Polstead, the thirteen at Earl Stonham the year before, the fourteen at Ashbocking in 2014 and Thornham Magna in 2013 or fifteen at Nayland in 2011 (I'm sure there were seventeen one year in the more distant past too!), but still enough to make it worthwhile for Alan Winter from Cambridgeshire to travel to the far east of the county to judge.

Listening to the ringing at Blythburgh. Listening to the ringing at Blythburgh. Listening to the ringing at Blythburgh. Listening to the ringing at Blythburgh.
Listening to the Ringing

With Pettistree and St Mary-le-Tower - our regular towers who we both rang for on this occasion - drawn just a couple of places apart in the middle, there wasn't enough time to pop over the road to The White Hart to listen to the ringing with a pint either, but it was still lovely to take it all in from the churchyard chatting with lots of friends from talking history with John Taylor to catching up with Anita Rose to trying St Mary-le-Tower team shirts for Guildford for size, as the boys made the most of the space and warm weather to dash about and play hide and seek.

Alan Winter gives out the results. David Potts receives the Mitson Shield on behalf of St Mary-le-Tower from Alan Winter. (Katharine Salter)
Alan Winter giving out the results & David Potts receiving the Mitson Shield on behalf of St Mary-le-Tower from Alan Winter
Neal Dodge receives the Lester Brett Call-Change Trophy on behalf of Thurston from Alan Winter. (Katharine Salter) The Thurston band with the Lester Brett Trophy. (Mike Whitby)
Neal Dodge receiving the Lester Brett Call-Change Trophy on behalf of Thurston from Alan Winter & The Thurston band with the Trophy

The ringing itself was superb from all that I heard, both next to the church and as we wandered down to the village hall where we were met by refreshment and then a superb tea as we mingled further and took in the lovely views across the Blyth Estuary, before Alan - who is the successor to Ian Holland as organiser of The Ridgman Trophy - gave out the close results having imparted how impressed he was by the overall standard of ringing. My wife and I were chuffed to be part of the winning St Mary-le-Tower team and well done to Thurston on winning the call-change competition, completing an impressive day for the Munnings family as sister-in-law Becky was part of their victorious band in the latter. Both pieces of ringing were recorded by Mike Cowling and are on this website to listen to. (Results. Ed.)

Well done also to Guild Ringing Master Katharine Salter on leading today's events, ensuring there was a judge and timekeepers for the practices and call-change teams.

If the pre-pandemic order of things picks up again, God willing we will be in the North-West District on Saturday 20th May 2023 for next year's competitions and I hope there will be even more teams and hopefully from the South-West District too, as we missed them this afternoon. Today was always going to be a tentative return. Some are still understandably anxious about being around crowds, whilst various bands have lost members since the 2019 competition for one reason or another and some are perhaps not back to full pelt after a difficult couple of winters where ringing has at best been sporadic. Hopefully in twelve months time things will have settled down. If circumstances allow, it'll be great to see teams like Clopton, Pakenham and Woolpit back who were entering before the lockdowns and going even further back, teams like Offton, Sproughton, Stowmarket and The Norman Tower. Holidays and family events prevented Hollesley and Falkenham & Felixstowe coming today to build on their successful showings in the South-East District Striking Competitions a fortnight ago, but all being well that won't be the case in twelve months. Maybe there will be some completely new names. Perhaps a year further into their learning, bands at places like Hitcham and Laxfield where new eights have been installed since the last competitions will be encouraged enough to join in next year. Please don't feel that because you have more than six bells (or even fewer!) that you are prohibited from entering - this is a fun competition for six-bell ringing, not just six-bell towers.

One of the reasons some give for not entering is that they don't have the time and of course ringing for weddings can make things logistically difficult, but of course this is not a serious contest. Organisers and other participants are usually happy for teams to have favourable draw time to work around other engagements. And we were able to comfortably fit it in even though it was sandwiched in between taking the boys to football training and my wife going out for breakfast to celebrate a work colleague's birthday this morning and us welcoming our friends Charlotte & Gregory to ours for a curry this evening.

Buxhall.Meanwhile, it seemed apt on the day that the trophy bearing his name was competed for that Hubert Mitson was remembered for the bequest he made that initiated the project to augment the six of Buxhall to an eight, as the first quarter-peal on the octave there was rung on what would've been his 102nd birthday.

That 1344 of Yorkshire Surprise Major also kick-starts the North-West District Quarter-Peal Fortnight, an event that will hopefully be nothing to get nervous about!

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Friday 20th May 2022

An email from the Woodbridge ringers today reminded me that a focus of ringing for the Platinum Jubilee weekend is for when the Service of Thanksgiving is being held at St Paul's Cathedral at 11.30am on the Friday. Woodbridge are planning on ringing, as I know that St Mary-le-Tower hope to be and whilst there aren't enough ringers to go around all the bells of Suffolk simultaneously, it would be great to get as many of the county's towers as possible ringing at this point.

Grundisburgh.There was ringing happening today, albeit for a very different reason as Don Price was remembered with a 5092 of Yorkshire Surprise Major at a tower he regularly travelled thirty miles to support and indeed was his leading peal tower by some distance with eighty-five, Grundisburgh. Meanwhile, congratulations to Brian Whiting who was ringing his two hundredth on the bells in the 2hrs 52mins of ringing.

Tostock.It wasn't the only ringing within our borders on this May Friday though, as a quarter-peal of Rossendale Surprise Minor was rung on the 5cwt gallery-ring six of Tostock, which was a first in the method for Maureen Gardiner and Neal Dodge. Well done Maureen and Neal!

No participation in the art for us though, with the closest we got being reading The Ringing World which arrived with us this morning and featured reports on the SGR Peal Week and David Salter Memorial Ringing Weekend, joining in with Simon Rudd and friends at his weekly virtual pub and watching Have I Got News For You which this week opened with a joke that suggested a bell ringer may have got on the wrong coach and ended up at what looks like a stag do in Ibiza!

Hopefully no ringers get on the wrong coach for ringing over the Platinum Jubilee weekend.

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Thursday 19th May 2022

Blythburgh. It is two days until the Guild Six-Bell Striking Competitions for the Mitson Shield and the Lester Brett Call-Change Trophy are due to be held at Blythburgh, but today is actually exactly a decade since they were last held on the 10cwt six. My blog entry that day and a link to the SGR Facebook page exhibits a number of photos that captured a brilliant day that saw ringers listening to good ringing in a wonderful location from across the village, including outside The White Hart. Along with the fact that we had new winners of both contests in the shape of Pettistree and Otley, I hope it all inspires and encourages any potential late entries and if nothing else anyone who just fancies coming along and soaking up the atmosphere.

One of the winners that day was then Guild Chairman Philip Gorrod, who was part of the victorious North-East District team that won the Eight-Bell Striking Competition for the Rose Trophy at Leiston when that was held on the same day. Ten orbits of the sun on, congratulations are again due to the now Ringing Master of the NE District, this time for ringing his one hundredth quarter-peal of Plain Bob Minor, which was rung on handbells in Beccles and appropriately in memory of fellow North-East District member Don Price.

My own handbell ringing is most probably nowhere near QP standard, but I continue to persevere, although I was less ambitious than usual this evening as I looked to do a bit of consolidation and having fought with internet lag and sensitive eBell on Ringing Room, I restricted my efforts to Little Bob Major on 5-6. I am pleased that my brain seems to cope more naturally with ringing two bells simultaneously, but I imagine I would still feel more in my comfort zone at Blythburgh on Saturday.

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Wednesday 18th May 2022

Football and ringing were vying for space in our household today.

God willing one day he'll feel ready to take up the latter too, but for now Alfie's great obsession is the former, especially playing it. It helps that he has an aptitude for it too and so he and some of his classmates who have been regulars at footy training on a Saturday morning found themselves training this evening with the aim of being ready for a team next season.

That this is planned to be a regular fixture over the coming weeks and months will make it even trickier for us to ring in the pre-practice quarter-peals at Pettistree, as it did on this occasion, but one of us can still make the session later in the evening, which tonight Ruthie did having got a lift with her mother Kate there and back following ringing and a drink in The Greyhound.

Pettistree. Hartest. Long Melford.
Pettistree, Hartest & Long Melford

That QP of Cambridge Surprise Minor beforehand was one of a trio of quarters rung in memory of Don Price, with the other two being a 1272 of Beverley & Surfleet Surprise Minor rung at Hartest and a 1260 of Grandsire Triples rung at Long Melford.

Meanwhile, regardless of additional football training, we still have the usual midweek evening logistics that mean that one of us has to stay at home to look after the children whilst the other is out ringing, but at least this time I was able to watch some football on the TV, which transpired to be the exciting Europa League Final that ended in penalties just as my wife returned on an evening where football and ringing mixed nicely for us.

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Tuesday 17th May 2022

Next year is the centenary of the Suffolk Guild of Ringers, as most of you will be aware. It is a once-in-a-lifetime event and a significant landmark that could put the Guild at the forefront of the attentions of ringers worldwide in 2023. Already the five-yearly Dinner is lined up for Saturday 25th March and the Central Council are planning on holding their AGM in Ipswich over the first weekend of September next year. Personally I am busy trying to line up a series of twelve-bell peals that I hope will present opportunities for various firsts, whilst readers of this blog will know how keen I am to see the Guild reach 10,000 peals before the end of its 100th year, with Friday's 5152 of Bristol Surprise Major at Kersey taking us to 9,894. However,  Rowan Wilson and her fellow officers are keen for as many ideas as possible to celebrate this special occasion and to that end there are now three documents on this website aimed at inspiring such ideas, not just for the celebrations, but also for fundraising and for where the organisation goes afterwards. Some are already being worked on, such as a 'takeover' of one of the editions of The Ringing World and collecting sound recordings of Guild towers, but there are also aspirations such as electing at least a hundred members and getting an attendance of a hundred or more at the Guild AGM at Beccles penciled in for Saturday 15th April. Do take the time to look at it all and please do let Rowan know of any ideas you get - she'll be delighted to hear from people!

Meanwhile, Don Price's death was announced to College Youths members with an email from Secretary Simon Meyer, as is usual with members who pass away and this revealed that he was the joint-third longest serving member of this aspirational society having been elected on 10th February 1945 along with John Mayne, who of course has his own Suffolk connections.

Otherwise today though, there was no actual ringing in the county to report on and nothing personally, as we sat back on our soft sofas and tried to think of more ideas to celebrate the Guild's centenary.

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Monday 16th May 2022

We like to do as much together as a family as possible, but of course evenings tend to see us necessarily disperse if either Ruthie or I want to go out, on school nights at least. In that context then, it was lovely as I departed for the weekly Monday night practice at St Mary-le-Tower, to leave with everyone in their happy place. Joshua was playing me off with a ukulele, Alfie was on his latest shift of watching back Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest on iPlayer and my wife was taking in an old episode of the Great British Bake Off featuring Sandi Toksvig, who we went to see perform recently.

St Mary-le-Tower. SMLT was a happy place to be too, with twenty-two present, including Janet from London and Peter Sanderson from York, a week after his wife Tina had visited us. There was even briefly a twenty-third as a beaming visitor stood in the open doorway behind the sixth ringer taking in some call-changes on twelve before leaving again, seemingly delighted by what she had witnessed.

Those call-changes were one of many pieces on twelve, with Cinques of the Grandsire & Stedman variety and Little Bob & Yorkshire Surprise Maximus also rung, in addition to the now usual Bristol Surprise Royal, amongst other things on a busy night of ringing. And the vast majority of it was well rung.

It was a good day generally for ringing in Suffolk, with a quarter-peal of Little Bob Royal rung on handbells in Moats Tye, in memory of Don Price.

After our ringing, the vast majority of that large crowd squeezed around the well inside the Halberd Inn and chatted ringing and beer festivals.

I think everyone was in their happy place.

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Sunday 15th May 2022

Another aspect of pre-pandemic life was restored this morning, as I followed up ringing at St Mary-le-Tower and refreshment at Costa Coffee with service ringing at Grundisburgh. They have been more cautious in their return than some, which it is important to note is entirely acceptable and understandable. As with at the height of all this, no one should feel they have to go ringing or ring with someone if they feel unsure or unsafe, even if now the virus is no longer the petrifying prospect it once was, thank God. With Alfie and Joshua not currently vaccinated, they were quite within their rights to feel anxious about them coming up with me, something I respect and therefore I hadn't been to Suffolk's lightest twelve with the boys since March 2020.

Grundisburgh.I was pleased therefore to receive an invite to join them this morning to help ring some Plain Bob Doubles, Grandsire Doubles and call changes on seven. It was lovely to see Ruth Symington again, who I had seen for the first time for years last time I was in the little wobbly brick tower on a Sunday morning. Ruth was a good Surprise Major ringer and is now finding her way back into the art after her return was interrupted by events of the past two years.

Huntingfield.My return to the St Mary-le-Tower/Grundisburgh Sabbath morn circuit seemed apt in light of yesterday's sad news about Don Price, who was also a regular for service ringing at those towers and it was lovely to see a quarter-peal of Doubles at Huntingfield rung in his memory and featuring a new method named after the village. I imagine more will be rung remembering this significant character of the county's ringing.

Great Barton.That 1368 on the 6cwt ground-floor five wasn't the only QP within our borders today though. Well done to Neal Dodge on ringing his first of Beverley Surprise Minor in the 1320 at Great Barton which also included Cambridge, and congratulations to the Guild's PR Officer and Ruth Suggett on ringing their 75th together.

Meanwhile, there was also ringing done at Great Livermere as the Festival of Suffolk Torch was carried through the village, whilst I returned to SMLT with Ruthie for our latest practice for the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final. Our most important practice will be when we plan to go to Guildford Cathedral, but our sessions on home bells are still important for getting as familiar as possible with the touch of Stedman Cinques that we are due to ring on 25th June and the multiple goes we had this afternoon (either side of a not-so-quick toilet break for the boys) certainly helped in that aim. However, the fact we were getting better and better over the hour and a half is also good for our confidence.

Nice as well to see the band photo from our eliminator at The Norman Tower in this week's edition of The Ringing World, after the one that accompanied Rowan Wilson's article in the publication a fortnight ago was of a very poor quality. And it wasn't the only mention of Suffolk ringing within its pages, with mention in 'What's Hot on BellBoard' made of the successful recent SGR Peal Week made.

That Peal Week was another welcome restoration of pre-pandemic life.

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Saturday 14th May 2022

For a 92-year-old man who dedicated decades of his life to ringing and indeed excelled at it, was one of the College Youths' longest serving members and who travelled often unfathomable numbers of miles to support Suffolk ringing, it seems almost comforting to hear that when he passed away it was to the sound of bells.

I really hope it is as peaceful and fitting as it sounds, because it would be deserving for one of the nicest and most gentle people I've had the pleasure of knowing, let alone rung with, Don Price, who died at Allonsfield House in Campsea Ashe in earshot of the 6cwt gallery-ring six ringing for their weekly Saturday morning practice. His wife Helen very kindly met the ringers afterwards to impart the sad news, news which will be keenly felt by many who also rang with Don over the years. Despite living in Reydon, every week he would travel over thirty miles to ring at and then afterwards Grundisburgh on a Sunday morning, but also helped out locally, as well with many quarters and peals. Personally I was honoured to ring 39 peals with him, 22 of which were on twelve, including spliced, Humberside Surprise Maximus at SMLT and York Surprise Maximus at Great Yarmouth, and even on fewer numbers our peals together included things like Stedman Caters and eight Surprise Major methods spliced. Which outlined how, for all his abundance of self deprecation, he was an extremely good ringer. For example, in the 1940s when he was ringing in St Albans, he rang in peals of Albanian Surprise Royal and Stedman Cinques at the Cathedral, the former of which was the first peal in a method that has been pealed almost 200 times according to the excellent Pealbase. For good measure, he rang in the first quarter-peal of it too. He was highly thought of in high places, with Swaz Apter speaking fondly of him at an ASCY meeting last year whilst she was Ringing Master.

It wasn't just ringing he excelled in either, with examples of his superb carpentry dotted around the ringing chambers of Suffolk. An extremely talented, affable gentleman, who has been much missed in local ringing in recent years due to ill health, but it is still extremely sad that we won't see him again and our thoughts are with Helen and their family in particular.

This sad news rather overshadowed an otherwise very enjoyable day that took in a BBQ at a friends' house to watch the FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Liverpool on a big screen in their garden, before we returned home to watch the UK in the Eurovision on an exciting day of competition.

Blythburgh. God willing we'll be enjoying an exciting day of competition in precisely a week at Blythburgh, but of course it will need teams, so please do let Guild Ringing Master Katharine Salter know if you are entering a team as soon as possible so she knows it is worthwhile the judges travelling here for it! This should be a fun competition, in a social atmosphere, with two trophies on offer and even if you don't win one of those - as Falkenham & Felixstowe showed at the South-East District Striking Competitions at Pettistree - you can still come away feeling chuffed with your efforts. I have taken much joy from seeing teams like Great Barton, Woolpit, Otley, Clopton and the like entering in recent years and bringing more members to a ringing event to meet and mingle and hopefully benefit from the day, so I hope those towers are considering entries, along with other similar bands - don't forget the Lester Brett Call Change Trophy if you don't feel able to enter ringing a method. This is first and foremost aimed at bringing people together, something we've surely come to appreciate more than ever after the last couple of years. No one is going to be criticised, mocked and humiliated. The result is ultimately immaterial, but it adds a different aspect to the art and in my humble opinion an enjoyable one. Please, please, please do enter a team and/or come along to take it in and make this a memorable return for the Guild Six-Bell Competitions.

Regardless of how many exactly take advantage of an afternoon in a lovely part of the world that we are utterly privileged to have on our doorstep and to share with friends, I hope it will again contribute towards the rich tapestry of ringing, an art that was so enjoyed by Donald C Price.

RIP Don.

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Friday 13th May 2022

Friday night is party night.

Not in a way they once were for us, with pubs and even clubs. Rather, I accompanied the boys to Play2Day in Martlesham for the birthday party of one of Joshua's classmates, a venue we've become extremely familiar with in recent months.

I did make it back in time to partake in the end of Simon Rudd's weekly virtual pub with various ringing friends from across East Anglia, the closest we usually get to a Friday night party these days, which was also the closest we got to ringing today.

Kersey.Not so for others who actually did ringing, including some on the video chat, as a peal of Bristol Surprise Major was rung at Kersey in a welcome return to peal ringing for Guild Peal Secretary Christine Knight.

St Clement's Church, Cambridge, England - IMG 0649 And over the Cambridgeshire border in Cambridge, it was an exciting day at St Clement's where six new bells arrived at a significant moment in a project I have mentioned on here before, with some great pictures on the Twitter feed of the Cambridge University Guild.

I imagine it is party night in Cambridge tonight.

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Thursday 12th May 2022

Striking competitions were on my mind today.

For once, not the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest, with no new developments on that today, although I would still encourage readers to consider a weekend in Guildford, if they aren't already and to that end to take a look at the superb website for the Final itself for details on accommodation, things to do, what's planned, etc.

Blythburgh.Rather, Suffolk Guild Ringing Master Katharine Salter's email to members about the SGR Six-Bell Striking Competitions planned for Blythburgh on Saturday 21st May brought the subject to mind. Her email draws attention to the draw time of 2pm and that ideally she needs notification of teams entering and numbers stopping to the bring and share tea by Wednesday 18th May, although later entries will still be welcomed. And I hope there are lots on both fronts. Saturday's South-East District Striking Competitions at Pettistree was a success and a very enjoyable afternoon, whilst the Eight-Bell Competition for the Rose Trophy at Horringer back in September saw a good turnout on its first outing as a standalone contest, with representation from all bar one District of the Guild, with the missing District being the North-East who are hosting in nine days time and so hopefully feeling more confident to provide entries with proceedings on their doorstep.

Wissett.However, whilst the NE are due to hold their competition on Saturday 3rd September at Wissett, the North-West and South-West don't have such events on the What's On as I write this, as far as I can tell. These are sometimes difficult for District officers to garner enthusiasm from their membership for, but both the NW and SW have a good history in the Guild competitions. The Norman Tower and Stowmarket have come close to winning and Pakenham actually have won it just five years ago from the former District, whilst from the latter Woolpit have been runners up in three of the last four contests. Let's make these true Guild competitions!

Coincidentally as I discovered, it is a decade to the day since Ruthie and I judged the North-East District Striking Competition at Chediston in 2012, the closest result between first and second that I can recall for a competition either of us have been at. In fact, so close was it that my then fiancee and I disagreed on the winner! All good fun, as striking competitions should be.

It is also worth mentioning that in amongst the excitement of the contest for the Taylor Trophy God willing taking place on 25th June, a week earlier the Suffolk Guild are hoping to defend their Ridgman Trophy title at Kings Lynn in Norfolk, the ten-bell competition for territorial organisations bordering onto the Ely Diocesan Association. Again, any support would be welcome!

Buxhall. Halesworth. Rumburgh.
Buxhall, Halesworth & Rumburgh

Meanwhile, it has been good to hear about the successful return of Midweek Ringing earlier this week. Over twenty joined them for ringing at Buxhall and then most of them for the meal afterwards, with the plan being for next month's to go to Halesworth and then Rumburgh on Tuesday 14th June, either side of food at The Angel in the former. Ideally, if you could let my mother Sally - who is organising it - if you want to join them at the pub by a fortnight before, that would help her greatly in booking everything up.

Also earlier this week but only just appearing on BellBoard, the L Martin Daniels Peal Tour continued with a 5040 of Grandsire Triples at Ixworth on Tuesday and a brace of peals of Minor yesterday, one on the gallery-ring at Monewden and one on the ground-floor six of Wingfield, as well as a quarter-peal of Plain Bob Triples on the back eight at Stradbroke. And congratulations to fellow Rambling Ringer Philip Wild on ringing his 750th peal in the one rung today at Hempstead in Essex.

There was ringing occurring within our borders too today and with resident members. Well done to Erika Clarke on ringing her first QP inside with the 1260 of Plain Bob Doubles, appropriately for today's theme rung at Blythburgh where I hope lots of us will be competing at in just over a week, with the judges from the weekend's SE Striking Competitions, Keith Dennis and Philip Gorrod.

Nothing so noteworthy from my own personal ringing on this largely sunny Thursday, although I did try out my theory from last week on my eBell with Wheatley on Ringing Room this evening, as I stepped back to Cambridge Surprise Minor on 3-4 and Yorkshire Surprise Major on 1-2, with quite reasonable results.

Although they won't win any striking competitions.

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Wednesday 11th May 2022

The Mitson Shield & the Cecil Pipe Memorial Trophy at Pettistree. (taken by Mike Cowling)
Pettistree Trophies
© 2022 Mike Cowling

This evening, I was at the home of the holders of both the Cecil Pipe Memorial Trophy and the Mitson Shield for the South-East District and Guild method six-bell striking competitions respectively, Pettistree. As well as call-changes for the learners from here and Hollesley and a couple of pieces of Grandsire Doubles, there was Surprise Minor of the Beverley, Cambridge (or you could argue Ebor as it was a bob course!), Carlisle and Netherseale varieties, the latter of which Chris McArthur asked for and made no mistakes in, which was one fewer then me! All with the aforementioned trophies watching over us.

Pleasingly, there was a big crowd there too, both at ringing and in The Greyhound and it is nice to see Daphne Rose making a return to ringing, accompanied by her ringing friend who is staying with her and Rob. Hopefully there are others making similar returns as ringing's recovery from the pandemic continues.

Sadly the pre-practice quarter-peal attempt of Norwich Surprise Minor was lost, but generally I think it could be said that things are going well at Pettistree.

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Tuesday 10th May 2022

It was more a day reading about ringing than doing ringing today.

The Ringing World arrived with us this morning and with it honourable mention of the weekend to celebrate the life of David Salter and Suffolk Guild Peal Week, whilst the peal we rang at Grundisburgh for Alfie's eighth birthday appears too.

Talking of SGRPW22, well done to Guild Ringing Master Katharine Salter on organising what must be considered a successful event, with eleven peals rung, including one in hand. A very decent return on a Peal Week as peal ringing here and elsewhere continues to recover from the last couple of years.

Peal Week has contributed heartily to the Guild's peal total for this year, which continue to be ahead of the curve of where we need to be to achieve 10,000 peals for the organisation before its centenary year of 2023 is out and God willing they will be bolstered further by the planned forthcoming long Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday Weekend in just under a month. However, it doesn't have to be peals marking the occasion and there is further guidance, advice and useful links on the CCCBR website that will hopefully help ringers use bells appropriately in their community. There is a BellBoard event set up for all ringing for this historic occasion, as well as one for ringing in this county and indeed also for the South-East District, where in keeping with so many are hoping to get ringing of all sorts done on as many bells in the District as possible over that weekend. Peals would be brilliant, but so would quarters and general ringing. Please do whatever you can and let SGR Public Relations Officer Neal Dodge and your District know about it.

Also on the Council's website is President Simon Linford's latest blog, which again touches upon many subjects. Apart from promoting his new eBook on Devon Call Changes, he mentions the CC's AGM weekend in September in Nottingham, which is due to involve ringing and events for more than just the CC Reps and there are now details elsewhere on the site about accommodation for the event.

Additionally though, he also reports that an incumbent has restricted access to visiting bands unless a full set of Basic Safeguarding training certificates can be shown. This is something we may need to accept will happen more and more, so something that organisers of and attendees on outings may need to consider.

Offton. Meanwhile, the pre-practice quarter-peal at Offton remembered the Priest in Charge there from 1994 to 2000, Kit Gray with a 1280 of Superlative Surprise Major which was a first in the method for Mark Ingledew. Well done Mark! It's good to read about.

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Monday 9th May 2022

As I walked away from the Halberd Inn in Ipswich town centre tonight, after a convivial post-ringing drink with my fellow St Mary-le-Tower ringers which mainly consisted of talk about the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final at Guildford Cathedral from arrangements to visiting the host tower for our important pre-competition practice to the results of the poll as to what our team shirts should look like to our expectations for the day, I wondered if the We Are The Champions being belted out badly from the weekly Monday karaoke night at Yates next door was a good or bad omen!

To be fair, we have no realistic ambitions of being crowned champions with the Taylor Trophy on 25th June (although it has to be said we perceived we had no realistic ambitions of qualifying for it in the first place, so you never know!), with the general expectations amongst us being that even if we finish tenth, we shall be happy if we have rung well. However, the practice that preceded our socialising in the pub should've helped us towards our ambitions, as we rang some decent Stedman Cinques tonight without a full band to call upon.

Grandsire Cinques was rung on twelve too, but also lots of ten-bell ringing as we aim to help bridge the giant leap from eight to twelve, with Surprise Royal of the Bristol, Cambridge and Lincolnshire varieties rung, as well as rounds on eight for our learners Jacob and Judy, whilst we were delighted to welcome York ringer and one-time member of the band here Tina Sanderson.

It was a nice evening out, briefly extended on the way home by me pulling over to check on a cyclist who had just been in an 'incident', but who seemed physically unhurt, even if he was understandably raging from what he said had happened.

Barham. Cretingham. Tostock.
Barham, Cretingham & Tostock

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Suffolk, peals were rung at Barham and Cretingham to add to Friday's at Tostock as it appears the L Martin Daniels Peal Tour has returned for it's annual visit to the area. I expect Don't Stop Me Now would be more appropriate for them!

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Sunday 8th May 2022

When I rang my first ever peal in the 5040 of Cambridge Surprise, Plain Bob, Kent and Oxford Treble Bob Minor at Ashbocking on 8th May 1992, I was already discovering the variety of opportunities that ringing offers. I'd rung quarter-peals, got a unique vantage point of people's special day by ringing for weddings (and getting paid a grand sum of £1 or £2 in the process, which felt like a fortune to me at the time!), participated in striking competitions attended District and Guild events, gone on outings and even weekends away visiting towers.

However, that 2hrs 47mins opened the door to another (at times) electrifying and exciting element of the art, one that has introduced me to a lot of people I wouldn't otherwise have rung with or even met, allowed me to take in a standard of ringing that some never get the privilege of and taken me to a wide range of places to ring, from quaint little village fives and sixes to a trip to Dublin to ring in the first peal of sixteen in Ireland to weekends in Towcester with the local ringers to a rock and a pub in the middle of the Bristol Channel to St Paul's Cathedral, York Minister and right back round to Ashbocking, Hopefully just for now.

For with more peals planned for the future, this afternoon I returned to this lovely ground-floor 10cwt six to replicate what was rung precisely thirty years ago where it all began. I had three others from that original band join me too, unexpectedly so in a couple of cases. Louise Whitehead and I rang together regularly at Offton as ringing youths back then, but we hadn't rung a peal with each other for twenty-five years and indeed this talented ringer hadn't rung any peals for almost fifteen years since she rang for the Cumberland Youths at Barrow in 2007. Today's success was her first for the Guild for nearly twenty years. It was very kind of her to come out.

The ringer of the fifth three decades ago Amanda Richmond was also a pleasant surprise so soon after the recent skiing accident that had put her out of action and although one of her crutches fell over from its resting position and hit her within minutes of us starting, she managed magnificently with her leg support and the occasion use of the corner behind her, although she didn't do the latter too much over the 2hrs 41mins as it made her feel sea sick with the tower movement!

Simon Rudd conducted proceedings for this my 638th peal as he did for number one back then and although from my debut peal band Ralph Earey wasn't able to ring and Steven Edson no longer rings as far as anyone seems to know, it seemed rather pleasing that their stand-ins represented my more recent peal-ringing life. My successor as SGR Public Relations Officer Neal Dodge wasn't even born when I rang my first peal, but he has rung in almost half of my last seventy-eight peals since my first one with him in 2015. Meanwhile, having become good friends with Simon's fellow Norwich ringer Ros Burrough via his weekly Friday night virtual pub over the last couple of years, it was lovely to ring my first peal with her as she became the 527th different ringer I have rung a peal with. Many thanks to all the band for indulging me.

Many thanks also to Liz and Stephen 'Podge' Christian on allowing us to ring on the bells for this very special occasion which is touchingly busy picking up likes on BellBoard and it was great to chat with them afterwards, as indeed it was to take in the beautiful countryside that surrounds this isolated church on gorgeous sunny spring evening as I waited for Ruthie to pick me up after she had picked Alfie up from a birthday party in Campsea Ashe.

Ashbocking. Ashbocking. Ashbocking. Ashbocking.
Ashbocking Today

As well as the majority of the band, there was much else that was pleasingly unchanged from 8/5/92. In addition to the same methods being rung, the ringing chamber remains gloriously rustic, with its brick floor and its use - much like many other ringing chambers - as storage for things like cups and Christmas decorations is not dissimilar to as I remember it as a thirteen year old. However, this was very much a peal of the modern age, initiated by Simon via a video chat and with the entire band secured via Facebook Messenger, whilst of course the peal was on BB by this evening. The days of organising peals by letter and even phonecalls seem largely gone, as have sending them up to The Ringing World by those pink slips of paper!

In this modern age of the exercise, I also rang at Woodbridge this morning for the service that the boys and I attended and my wife sang for, whilst I was pleased to have got such a good band for our efforts that clashed with the second Sunday peal at Aldeburgh which on this occasion was a 5024 of Gainsborough Surprise Major and a 1296 of Plain & Little Bob Royal spliced at The Norman Tower.

I'm glad to see that 8th May 2022 is exhibiting the variety of opportunities that ringing offers as much as 8th May 1992 did.

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Saturday 7th May 2022

Triangle sandwiches in abundance and homemade cakes. Steaming tea in an array of different sized cups. A functional but homely village hall with views across the Suffolk countryside. Wisteria climbing up a thatched cottage. Huge puddles that need large detours to get around after a much needed but heavy deluge earlier in the day. Even the much commented upon horse poo in the country lanes as we walked into Pettistree. All very evocative and even more so when accompanied by friends and the sound of bells drifting across the fields.

South-East District Ringing Master Jenny Scase carrying out the draw for the Striking Competition ringing order. Ringers outside the church and in the village listening and/or waiting to ring. Ringers outside the church and in the village listening and/or waiting to ring. Ringers outside the church and in the village listening and/or waiting to ring.
The Draw and Waiting & Listening

This was the 2022 South-East District Striking Competition and it may not be everyone's (steaming) cup of tea, but since I missed this over the last couple of years whilst we haven't been able to hold them. It is cosy, quaint, even twee, but reassuring and today it was an afternoon very pleasantly spent. Eight teams from across the SE, in the middle of the county to the coast, experienced peal-ringers to some who had only first rung on towerbells a few months ago, gathered together for some friendly competition.

View of Pettistree tower from Pettistree Village Hall. View of Wickham Market tower from Pettistree Village Hall.
Views of Pettistree & Wickham Market

Once I'd accompanied Alfie to football training, our preparations began with making cheese sandwiches and flapjack for the hungry participants and interested spectators, before arriving at the Village Hall for the draw and to begin a lovely few hours of mingling, listening to and taking part in good ringing and taking in the surroundings, with the base for the draw, tea and results offering views across to both the tower where competitors were being put through their paces to the south and Wickham Market where there is a 12cwt six and where the contest was held six years ago to the north-east.

Both Ruthie and I were ringing for the hosts, whilst I also rang for my home tower St Mary-le-Tower, pleasingly one of just a few ringing for more than one team. Both pieces of ringing were of a well rung course of Cambridge Surprise Minor and we listened to Debenham as we made the picturesque stroll from the Village Hall to St Peter and St Paul to compete, as well as picking up the ringing of other bands as we stood in the churchyard, in the lanes and from the hall. Noticeably, it was all of a good quality.

We caught up with friends - some not seen for a couple of years - and played games with the boys, drank cups of tea and generally took it all in with a new appreciation. It's not rock 'n' roll, its probably not fashionable, even in ringing circles, but life doesn't get much better as far as I'm concerned.

The trophies - The David Barnard Memorial Call Change Trophy on the left, the Cecil Pipe Method Trophy on the right. Enjoying the tea at Pettistree Village Hall.
The Trophies & Tea

Eventually the octet of bands finished with Hollesley 'H' rounding proceedings off and with everyone now convened back in the hall, along with latecomers such as my mother Sally who hadn't been ringing in the competition but had come from other ringing (a wedding at Offton on this occasion) to join us, the call "grubs up" was bellowed out to cut through the multiple conversations taking place and an increasing queue built to take their turn to pick from a feast put on for us. And all just for £3.50 a head.

Plates of food were set aside for the judges, Halesworth ringers Keith Dennis and North-East District Ringing Master and Past Chairman of the Guild Philip Gorrod, as they arrived late, having had to mull over what they had heard over the previous couple of hours or so. Allowing them time to digest their food, it was then time for them to impart to the world what they had made of it all.

Philip started off, giving their thoughts and constructive criticism in a jovial fashion and then Keith revealed the results, first of the David Barnard Memorial Call Change Trophy and then the Cecil Pipe Method Trophy. Congratulations to Hollesley on winning the former, although special mention has to go to the Falkenham & Felixstowe band who came second in their first ever competition. If anyone has any doubts about the potential benefits of striking competitions, I'm sure the looks of satisfaction and joy on their faces would've dispelled those doubts. Hopefully this will be a fillip to this fledgling band and encourage others to take the time to help them out from time to time. Much like the entries of bands such as Clopton in the past, it gives a good indication of how active a band is, which in turn I hope will tempt others to join them.

Judges Keith Dennis & Philip Gorrod giving remarks and the results at Pettistree Village Hall. Peter Harper receives the David Barnard Memorial Call Change Trophy on behalf of the winning Hollesley band. Mike Whitby receives the Cecil Pipe Method Trophy on behalf of the winning Pettistree band.
Judges Keith Dennis & Philip Gorrod giving remarks and the results,
Peter Harper receives the David Barnard Memorial Call Change Trophy on behalf of the winning Hollesley band,
Mike Whitby receives the Cecil Pipe Method Trophy on behalf of the winning Pettistree band

In the latter contest, it was Pettistree who claimed the trophy to add to the Mitson Shield that they still hold from winning the Guild Six-Bell Striking Competition at Polstead in 2019, but ultimately well done to all who took part today, to the local ringers on their welcome, District Ringing Master Jenny Scase on keeping everyone moving and Secretary Liz Christian and her husband Stephen (better known affectionately as 'Podge' to most of us!) on making sure all the practical elements like timing of the bands' practices went to plan. Considering its a while since the SE have had to do this, there was an impressive slickness to it!

Hitcham.Away from the competition, well done also to Nicola and Malcolm Currie on winning a Heritage Champion Award from Suffolk Preservation Society for their work on the project to restore and augment Hitcham's bells. A fantastic and well deserved achievement!

St Philip & St Jacob.There was more achieving in the county as a 5040 of Plain Bob Major was rung in hand at Moats Tye as part of SGR Peal Week, which also includes in its numbers a 5008 of Double Norwich Court Bob Major at St Philip and St Jacob in Bristol rung earlier this week where former resident Suffolk ringers and now South-Westerners Robert Beavis, Philip Moyse, George Salter and Molly Waterson made up half the band.

Rougham.It wasn't the only ringing noted on BellBoard from within our borders either, with a 280 of Grandsire Doubles rung at Rougham to celebrate Brenda Simmons' eightieth birthday.

All part of the rich, evocative tapestry of ringing being enjoyed in the county today.

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Friday 6th May 2022

Guildford Cathedral, the South Front. - - 136670It is fifty days until God willing Ruthie and I will be at Guildford Cathedral ringing for Ipswich at the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final and catching up with friends over a few beers in glorious weather. All whilst wearing team shirts and progress is being made on what they will look like with an online band vote on colour, logo and type of shirt. Hopefully the results will be announced shortly.

Earl Stonham. Tostock. Bacton.

Although we are due to take part in a different striking competition in Pettistree tomorrow and quarter-peals of Cambridge Surprise Minor and Ditchingham Surprise Minor were rung at Earl Stonham and Tostock respectively, there was no ringing for us today, the closest we got being Simon Rudd's weekly virtual pub where conversation ranged from a successful sounding practice at The Norman Tower last night to masculine and feminine nouns in French.

Not the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final, but there are fifty days that might allow for it to pop up in conversation.

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Thursday 5th May 2022

I've always been a believer that by ringing harder stuff, the stuff that was hard becomes easier. If that is true, I don't know, but I've decided to apply the same logic to my solo eBell practice on Ringing Room with Wheatley, safe in the knowledge that I'm not annoying other ringers around me with my whims. Therefore, despite not ringing Yorkshire Surprise Major particularly well on 1-2 but working my way through a course a week ago, I ploughed on with the same on 7-8 tonight. The results were not too dissimilar, although not helped by internet lag that was even worse than usual. After a concerted and strenuous focus I was too mentally drained after a day working and getting the boys fed and to bed and so I shall have to wait to see if I could ring Yorkshire on 1-2 better, generally when I have taken a step back I have found that my ringing is better, as it typically has been as I've progressed throughout my ringing 'career'.

Whilst I was doing that, Ruthie was doing her usual choir practices with her choral colleagues from St Mary-the-Virgin in Woodbridge and Illuminati, but with a twist as she travelled out to Dallinghoo with the latter to prepare for a forthcoming concert there on Saturday evening.

Chediston.Elsewhere though, other Suffolk ringers were ringing  and on real bells in the county, most notably Keith Dennis who rang his first quarter-peal of Treble Bob in the 1272 of Kent Treble Bob Minor rung on the 11cwt ground-floor six of Chediston. Hopefully it'll make some of the stuff he might have found harder previously seem a bit easier now!

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Wednesday 4th May 2022

Pettistree. Ruthie rang in the pre-practice quarter-peal at Pettistree this evening, accompanying her mother Kate who conducted the 1296 of Cambridge Surprise Minor, before attending the session that followed and retiring for a drink in The Greyhound afterwards in a textbook but enjoyable Wednesday evening, whilst I had a different kind of textbook and enjoyable evening at home as I got the boys washed, reading done and then to bed with little resistance.

There might likely to have been more of the same tomorrow night too, even if my extremely better half wasn't singing, as the weekly Thursday evening practice at Grundisburgh has been cancelled, but the scene of the brothers' mother and gran's entertainment tonight is due also to be the scene of Saturday's South-East District Striking Contest. Even if you're not in a team, please do consider coming along and even booking a tea by contacting Mary Garner. With a 1.30pm draw, it will hopefully be a pleasant afternoon in the countryside listening to some nice ringing and catching up with friends and maybe even making new ones.

One sad note today was the death of Margaret Chapman of Somerset. I didn't know her personally, although I was invited to ring in the band attempting ten peals over a twenty-four hour period across 27th & 28th June 2009 at Pig-le-Tower in Marston Bigot, the private ring of her and her late husband Tom, which were duly scored, even with a rehang of the tenor six peals in! Many here did know her though and she was a very popular character in the art, and already a peal has been rung to her memory in her resident county on another private ring - The Potters Yard Ring in Holcombe - with a band featuring former Suffolk ringer Barrie Hendry and rung to a composition of one-time Great Barton ringer Alex Tatlow.

Tostock. Hopton.Meanwhile, Mrs Munnings and Mrs Eagle's QP wasn't the only in Suffolk today. Well done to Clare Gebel on ringing her first of St Clement's College Bob Minor in the 1260 at Tostock, whilst there was a 1250 of Lincolnshire Surprise Major rung on the 9cwt ground-floor eight of Hopton in the far north of our rural county, all on a day that one of the biggest supporters of that county and ringing here received his MBE from the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace today. BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Mark Murphy has often given ringing within our borders a prominent platform, not least when he made ringing a focal point for his celebrations of the county's patron saint St Edmund.

Congratulations Mark and to the county's quarter-peal ringers today, including Ruthie!

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Tuesday 3rd May 2022

The Ringing World. The Ringing World arrived with us this morning, with the highlight personally and from a Suffolk perspective being Guild Chairman Rowan Wilson's superb article on the recent National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest eliminator at The Norman Tower from a local perspective and which is already on this website. Despite our photo looking like we've been blurred out to protect our identities, it all looks very good and is great PR for ringing in the county to an international audience.

We were doing nothing to add to the local ringing scene ourselves today, apart from arranging a peal band. Instead, it was an evening in, once the boys had been to a birthday party after school.

At least it gave me time to read The Ringing World.

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Monday 2nd May 2022

I have to be honest. It had completely passed me by until a few days ago that this Bank Holiday Monday was coming. Easter Monday was only a fortnight ago and came at the end of the unmissable build-up of Lent, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter itself. In a month's time the Queen's Platinum Jubilee is due to be marked by an extra Bank Holiday to make a four-day weekend and there is increasing coverage and anticipation around this. Therefore, I was unsurprisingly not the only one to have overlooked this one and unlike the Bank Holiday of two weeks ago we hadn't made any social arrangements or indeed planned anything else.

St Mary-le-Tower. That meant we had time to do lots of largely unexciting and mundane things that were nonetheless important, like a rare lay-in, a reordering of one of the bedrooms, a trip to click and collect the shopping and a general tidy up. Additionally, it allowed me to get out to St Mary-le-Tower's weekly practice. Bank Holiday practices can be quite unpredictable. Sometimes you have lots of visitors who would usually be unable to get to Ipswich on a typical Monday evening, other times numbers are low because regulars are away. There was more of the latter unfortunately, but Ringing Master David Potts had ensured that at least enough were present to make it worthwhile people travelling out and with the help of one-time Great Barton ringer and member of Southwark Cathedral's band in the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Alex Tatlow, there was an impressive ten-bell repertoire, with Stedman Caters, Bristol Surprise Royal and Lincolnshire Surprise Royal, as well as Plain Hunt on Seven and Call-Changes on Twelve for Anna.

Nice as well to seeing Suffolk Guild Ringing Master Katharine Salter looking relaxed after a very successful weekend celebrating the life of her husband David, during which the peal at St Margaret's across the county town was successful yesterday. Apparently the internet connection in the hotel that conductor Barrie Dove was staying in wasn't very good, hence its absence from BellBoard!

Being a Bank Holiday Monday, our post-ringing refreshment had to be moved from our now usual pub of the Halberd Inn to our old drinking hole of The Cricketers, as the former only serves up until 9pm on such days. Despite the surroundings, the atmosphere was still jovial and a nice way to round off the night.

Meanwhile, a photo was shared on the SGR Facebook page of Peal Secretary Christine Knight receiving her certificate for fifty years membership from Chairman Rowan Wilson at the recent AGM in Drinkstone. As readers will know, we missed the occasion, but I'm delighted that Christine has received recognition of her service to the Guild, as so many have in recent years, and of course she continues to give that service in her current role. Congratulations Christine!

Beyond our borders meanwhile, there were plenty of peals across the country taking advantage of the extra Monday off. Many were for the College Youths' Peal Weekend in Leicestershire, but having been in Ipswich peal ringing only yesterday, Colin Turner was ringing peals forty-three and forty-four of 2022 on the other side of the country in Shropshire, occasional visitor to Grundisburgh Peter Emery was in Gloucestershire ringing in someone's first peal and one-time Exning learner Jimmy Yeoman was ringing in a peal of Stedman Cinques at Carlisle Cathedral.

Clearly the Bank Holiday didn't pass everybody by!

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Sunday 1st May 2022

St Matthew.The ringing weekend in memory of twice Past Ringing Master of the Suffolk Guild David Salter continued today with another peal to also add to the SGR Peal Week as a 5040 was rung at St Matthew in Ipswich, whilst there were also a couple of quarter-peals rung. Congratulations to Clare Veal and Neal Dodge on ringing their 100th together and well done to the latter on ringing his first of Surprise Major in the 1280 of Yorkshire at Horringer, whilst back in the county town, David's eldest sons George and Colin rang a 1320 of Oxford Treble Bob Minor on handbells with Deborah Thorley, the daughter of another Past Ringing Master of the Guild, Martin.

Deborah was one of a number who are within our borders for the weekend who also boosted the attendance at St Mary-le-Tower this morning and allowed us to ring Little Bob Maximus and Stedman Cinques, even with a number of regulars away on this bank holiday weekend. Good to see George Salter up the tower, as it was to see him last night.

Vintage buses on the move.Some of us went on to St Lawrence where I rang some Stedman Doubles, before Lincoln ringer Graham Colborne, the boys and myself left the rest of them to appropriately ring some Mayday Doubles to join others for some post ringing refreshment in Costa Coffee, before my sons and I and Bristol ringer Ian Hill wandered into Christchurch Park to the vintage car rally as the bells of St Margaret's rang out. Ian and ourselves parted to make our own way around the hundreds of vehicles before they went on their usual annual convoy to Felixstowe, which we inadvertently became a part of as we eventually made our way back to Woodbridge, much to Joshua's amusement as he waved to the crowds who lined the streets to see the rally and who in turn very kindly waved back!

Ian was due to ring in a peal on the 14cwt gallery-ring eight next to the park afterwards, but I notice that there is no entry on BellBoard and no word of it being scored, so I fear it may have been a rare loss from the last three days.

And again, we were unable to ring as non-ringing commitments prevented us, although again it was for happy reasons as we went for a meal with my wife's family at the Coach & Horses in Melton to celebrate the birthday today of Mrs Munnings' sister Clare, before we wandered up to the home of mother-in-law and Ufford Ringing Master Kate for more food and drink.

It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon, even if it did involve no ringing on a superb weekend of ringing in Suffolk.

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Saturday 30th April 2022

David Salter, twice Past Ringing Master of the Suffolk Guild, long-time representative for us on the Central Council and much more besides for an organisation that he did so much for from gathering information for the Annual Report to being a huge influence to ringers across the county, myself and Ruthie included. That was just his influence within our borders. As his blog so wonderfully captured, he was also a busy ringer across the country, ringing in far flung towers and being an important part of peal-bands from Devon to Yorkshire and making many friends along the way.

Ringers gathered at St Mary's Church Hall to celebrate the life of David Salter.When he sadly died in September, his expressed wish was for no funeral, but I think he would definitely approve of the ringing weekend that his family led by wife and current SGR Ringing Master Katharine organised for this weekend, which has brought together ringing chums for three days of tower grabs, quarters and peals and this evening a social at St Mary's Church Hall in Combs for some of his many ringing friends. With hog roast alongside a spread of food savoury and sweet and beer for those not driving, this was a wonderful occasion to catch up with friends from across the county as well as from further afield, such as Catherine and Roger Riley from Selby who we usually see on Rambling Ringers and whose son Alex has made a name for himself for his exploits on handbells and in judging his first eliminator in the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest in Bury St Edmunds, which personally I think he did very well at! There were also some of the most well known characters of the peal-ringing world, such as Barrie Dove, Alan Regin and Nicola & Colin Turner, the latter of whom has rung more peals than anyone else in the history of the art, with the 5040 at Barham this afternoon being his 7828th.

Of course, that wasn't his only peal of the day, as he was also in the 5088 of Lessness Surprise Major at Gislingham (the footnote of which captured how much David did for ringing beyond peal-ringing) and in turn his brace was actually a mere drop in an ocean of performances for David within our borders today, which included seven peals, six for the Suffolk Guild which he was the RM of from 1994 to 1999 and then 2003 to 2006 that have also kicked off this year's Guild Peal Week in spectacular fashion! As far as I can make out, that is the most rung in a day for the Guild since 29th January 2011 when the same number were rung. I don't know if more have been managed in our name in one day and whilst someone may be able to tell me, I'm pretty certain that David would've known, which seems fitting!

There were achievements along the way that he would have appreciated too. Congratulations to Simon Rudd on ringing his 1750th peal in the 5042 at The Norman Tower that he conducted, to David's eldest son George on ringing his 50th of Doubles in the success at Great Livermere and Louis Suggett on circling the 8cwt six at Great Barton with the 2hrs 58mins of Cambridge Surprise Minor he called to a DGS composition, whilst there were also peals at Henley and Stonham Aspal and quarter-peals of Major in Plain Bob and Yorkshire Surprise at Kersey and Bardwell respectively.

The 'lap of appreciation' after the Ipswich Town match.It was an appropriately phenomenal day of ringing in the county involving so many both locally and from further afield for a man who had a pretty phenomenal ringing output himself, but none of it involved Ruthie or me today. In October, just after his passing, I was privileged to ring in the first post-lockdown second Sunday peal at Aldeburgh which he had done more than most to garner the superb reputation they have, as well as in the peal last month on what would've been his 66th birthday, at Leiston near his birthplace of Aldringham. However, any ambitions we had of joining in the ringing were scuppered by the 12.30pm kick-off of Ipswich Town's final match of the season, which of course cut across both morning and afternoon from a ringing perspective. Still, we were pleased to have gone for the boys, as well as their cousins who were attending their first match and will hopefully have fond memories of a 4-0 win against Charlton Athletic on a sunny day that was climaxed with the traditional 'lap of appreciation'. 'Lap of honour' would be stretching it for a team that has just finished 11th in the third tier of English, something I'm sure David would've chuckled at!

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Friday 29th April 2022

When Simon Rudd first started his Friday evening video chats a couple of years ago, it was a response to us being completely holed up at home. No ringing, no going to the pub, not even going to our places of work. When talking about our contemporary activity, once we'd got beyond discussing homeschooling, our trip to the supermarket or compost, there wasn't much to impart.

Hawkeden. Kedington. Orford. Ufford.
Hawkeden, Kedington, Orford & Ufford

The virtual pub is still opening on Fridays, but there is a marked difference in their circumstances and content. People are now doing stuff, to the extent that regulars are missing on a more frequent basis, as we were a week ago. And there was much to talk about on the subject of what people have been doing and plan to do. Whilst we shared recollections of our visit to The Regent to watch Sandi Toksvig and our intentions for the weekend, our host was there at the beginning live from his car in Ardleigh as he waited to ring in a quarter-peal at Ardleigh involving him and five Culhams at the end of a day where he had also been quarter-pealing in Suffolk with a 1260 of Doubles at Hawkedon and a 1320 of Cambridge Surprise Minor at Kedington and following a busy few days ringing on the European continent. Meanwhile, the Colmans were preparing for a peal attempt in the morning and Mark Ogden told us about his stint judging a national robot competition in Telford last week (complete with impressive videos), as well as his peal-ringing exploits as he rang in a peal today at Orford at the start of a planned weekend of ringing in celebration of the life of twice Past Master of the Guild David Salter, which also saw a peal rung at Ufford. There is much more lined up over the next couple of days.

God willing it'll give us a lot to talk about next Friday for Simon's weekly video chat.

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Thursday 28th April 2022

Back to my solo practicing on Ringing Room with my eBell and Wheatley and my most ambitious to date as I attempted a course of Yorkshire Surprise Major on 1-2. Perseverance paid off as I managed it after a handful of goes, some aborted by double-clappering and/or internet lag. I can't claim it to have been very good, but I was pleased to be able to right myself pretty instantly and to make it through!

Mike Cowling's camera at Barham. Barham. Leiston.
Elveden. Grundisburgh.
Mike Cowling's camera at Barham, Barham, Leiston, Elveden & Grundisburgh

I also found time to have a look at the updated page for Barham on this website, which like others such as Leiston has benefitted from the work of Mike Cowling. In addition to the photo, contact details and timings of regular ringing that most other Suffolk towers have, he has added photos and even video and sound recordings, collected from the South-East District Practice there at the start of this month. Much as I aim to achieve when I take photos of ringing on my travels, this is intended to give a record of the sights and sounds of our ringing chambers. Mike has already done many sound recordings at towers like Elveden and Grundisburgh, but he is keen to hear from towers who are willing and able to accommodate him and his recording equipment, which doesn't take up much room, as one of my pictures from the same event shows! It would be great to have recordings of as many places as possible within our borders for the centenary of the Guild next year.

Halesworth.Another place that already has a recording on their entry is Halesworth, where today a quarter-peal of Plain Bob Triples was rung for the licensing of Reverend Gini Williams. Well done to Peter Lock on his first on eight as conductor and congratulations to Gini on her licensing!

On top of all this local activity, CCCBR President Simon Linford's latest blog entry is available to view on their site. Amongst his jovial musings of whether we overcomplicate ringing bells after his recent holiday in Italy, he makes a serious point about safeguarding. Apparently some are understandably confused about what level of safeguarding training they should be doing, so he points out that on the Central Council website there is now a flowchart that should hopefully help anyone who is unsure. Do take a look please, as this is such an important issue.

Meanwhile, on the Guild Facebook page, PR Officer Neal Dodge has shared details of a leatherworker who has offered to quote or making muffles for any tower looking to renew theirs. For those not on FB, he is Peter Ward of Ardleigh and his website is and can be contacted on

A lovely offer, but I shan't need any for my eBells.

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Wednesday 27th April 2022

Guildford Cathedral, the South Front. - - 136670 St Nicholas. I promise I'm not intending on bombarding everyone with stuff about the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest Final at Guildford Cathedral until 25th June. However, by the nature of its sheer size and broad appeal compared to pretty much any other ringing event, there is likely to regularly be something new to impart and as I have always been, I am keen to encourage ringers from Suffolk to go along and enjoy the day or even the weekend out. For those looking to do the latter, there is now information on the Final's website about arrangements for the Friday and Saturday nights either side of the competition itself. Both involve a designated pub, the Britannia, where an area has been put aside for ringers to gather and mingle, which means you can be pretty much assured of meeting friends and/or making new ones. Additionally on the Friday, there will also be ringing at the nearby 21cwt ten of St Nicholas. Along with the discounted rooms at the Holiday Inn, I hope that will make the occasion an even more appealing one to the casual spectator, of which there are anticipated to potentially be around 1,000, although we are entering into unchartered territory in this 'post-pandemic' world.

Cowlinge. Stradishall.We hope to be making positive headlines in the local media for our efforts in Surrey, but one Suffolk ringer who is already making local media headlines is Adrian Lee who rings at Cowlinge and Stradishall. He is amongst the first round of people nominated to take part in the Festival of Suffolk Torch Relay due to run from Brandon to Ipswich between 13th May and 1st June, as promoted on SuffolkNews. Congratulations Adrian!

Horringer. And making ringing headlines locally was the band ringing the 5184 of Lessness Surprise Major at Horringer for what I assume (as it isn't recorded as such on BellBoard) is the twenty-fourth Guild peal this year, thus keeping 'Project 10,000' on track!

We weren't being any use to this or any ringing cause today though. Rather, we were taking in a Christmas present from Ruthie's mother Kate (who also very kindly looked after the boys whilst we were out), as we watched Sandi Toksvig at The Regent in Ipswich on her Next Slide Please... Tour. As presenter of my wife's favourite show QI and also one-time presenter of another of her faves The Great British Bake Off, Mrs Munnings and I had high hopes of this and we weren't to be disappointed as she took us through a hilarious account of how she spent the lockdowns, as well as revealing her research on Ipswich, which included an old postcard of The Ancient House. A lovely way to spend an evening, as I hope a drink at the Britannia in Guildford in June will be!

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Tuesday 26th April 2022

You may not have noticed as I haven't mentioned it much, but I am very excited at the prospect of competing with St Mary-le-Tower in the Final of the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest at Guildford Cathedral that is due to happen in sixty days time. Today though, I was transported back a month to the eliminator at The Norman Tower as I read Guild Chairman Rowan Wilson's wonderful report on the event from a Suffolk perspective. It reinforces just what an achievement it was to have two teams from the county competing in the biggest competition in ringing, especially after the disruption of the previous two years and adds to the feeling of anticipation that is already building for 25th June.

St Lawrence.It wasn't the only ringing reading I did today though, with The Ringing World arriving this morning and giving much to take in, although the only connections to ringing within our borders was a plea from former Guild Treasurer Gordon Slack for potential new members for The Faraday Guild and the 120 of St Martin's Bob Doubles rung in October at St Lawrence in Ipswich in memory of SGR Secretary from 1989-1999 Bruce Wakefield's friend Anthony Peake, placed at the bottom of his obituary.

Pettistree. Blythburgh. Bungay. Buxhall. Brandon. Long Melford.
Pettistree, Blythburgh, Bungay, Buxhall, Brandon & Long Melford

Meanwhile, now we are twenty-six thirtieths through April, it is worth noting that if all goes to plan, May will be a busy month of ringing here. Starting with the South-East District Six-Bell Striking Competitions planned for Pettistree on Saturday 7th May, which I believe will be the first District competition for three years. Hopefully that will mean there will be an abundance of teams ready to take advantage of us being able to do this, as I hope there will be a fortnight later when the Guild Six-Bell Striking Competitions are lined up for Blythburgh. Their absence from our calendars of 2020 and 2021 should have confirmed their nature, that they are just a fun, different way of enjoying ringing. It really doesn't matter who wins, just that lots of ringers and teams are there to ring and socialise in a way that we weren't able to for so long. However, for those who perceive the result to be more important than me, but might be put off by the longstanding but unfounded (at least in recent years) perception that St Mary-le-Tower will definitely win ought to note that the current holders are Pettistree and even just in the time since I returned to the homeland seventeen years ago, other winners have included Pakenham, The Wolery, Grundisburgh and Rendham. And Ipswich's own surprise qualification in the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest proves that nothing can be taken for granted. And that's before you consider there are the David Barnard Memorial and Lester Brett Call-Change trophies up for grabs on the 7th and 21st respectively. Please do enter.

It isn't just striking competitions that are penciled in over the thirty-one days of next month of course. On Monday 9th, the plan is to hold the Bungay Eight-Bell Practice from 7.30pm with access via the priest's door on the north side as usual, whilst the following day is the hoped for return of Midweek Ringing, on this occasion at Buxhall. My mother Sally has been the driving force behind the revival of this previously popular event for those who are free during the day (which can include anyone with a day off, tourists, students, shift workers, the unemployed, stay at home parents, as well as those who are retired) and she would appreciate names for lunch as soon as possible, as ideally she'll need them two weeks in advance for this get-together a fortnight from now! Come Saturday 14th, the North-West District are due to hold their monthly meeting, this time to Brandon from 10am-noon and the South-West District intend to hold their Practice on Saturday 28th at Long Melford from 7.30-9pm. Please do support as much as you can, whatever you perceive your ability to be.

Additionally, the NW District QP Fortnight is due to run from 21st May to 5th June, the end of the Platinum Jubilee weekend and the Guild Peal Week is planned to run from this Saturday until 7th May. Whilst there will be some number crunching (which is also something to be encouraged IMHO), these will offer plenty of opportunities for learners in particular, so if you want to do something or know someone who you feel would benefit from doing something, then please contact Maureen Gardiner for the former and Katharine Salter for the latter, or organise something yourself!

There is hopefully plenty to look forward to as well as back on.

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Monday 25th April 2022

St Mary-le-Tower AGM.I may have missed the Suffolk Guild AGM on Saturday, but I was at least able to make the St Mary-le-Tower Society of Change Ringers AGM this evening. Sadly the plan to hold it in a room at the Halberd Inn didn't materialize, but the Right Reverend Tom Mumford was superb in chairing the meeting for the first time, ensuring all that needed to be done was done and needed to be said was said without it dragging it out, and having got underway a little after 8.30, we were done at 9 and off to the pub with Tom!

Once there, we sat round the well in the corner, which made for the perfect setting to discuss the team shirts we are planning to have at Guildford Cathedral for the National Twelve-Bell Contest Final. What colour should they be? What writing should they have on them? Should they be specific to ringing or have broader appeal? T-shirt or polo shirt? (Please be t-shirt, please be t-shirt...)

It all provided much joviality over a pint and topped a nice evening off, even if the ringing itself was strangely below par. Nonetheless, Bristol Surprise Royal and Lincolnshire Surprise Royal and Grandsire Cinques were rung, as well as call-changes on twelve for learner Anna and much more could have been rung on twelve if time had allowed.

Ours wasn't the only ringing in the county today of course and indeed David Stanford was present tonight on a day that he also rang in a quarter-peal of Little Bob Royal on handbells in Bury St Edmunds, as ringers within our borders continue to impress in hand.

Who knows what they may have achieved by the next Guild and St Mary-le-Tower AGMs?

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Sunday 24th April 2022

Today was a good day of twelve-bell ringing in Suffolk.

Guildford Cathedral, the South Front. - - 136670 It all began with the Grandsire Cinques being rung as we - with Ruthie, as the choir aren't used at St Mary-the-Virgin in Woodbridge on Low Sunday - waited on the stairs at St Mary-le-Tower with Diana Pipe and continued with a course of Little Bob Maximus that I called from the tenor, before we retired to Costa Coffee for refreshment. Later, we returned to the heaviest ring of bells in the county for a practice for the Final of the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest at Guildford Cathedral. This was our first opportunity to ring the new touch of Stedman Cinques that we are due to ring as the test piece in Surrey in sixty-three days time and I am happy to report that we have started well, with the boys sat in the ringing chamber behaving very well. There has been a little bit of shuffling of band placement and we were pleased to have James Smith and Amanda Richmond back after they were unable to ring in the eliminator at The Norman Tower, although we were without Katharine Salter as she was ringing a peal at Milton in Oxfordshire this afternoon. Already though, we were picking up on all the bits that God willing will become very familiar to us in the coming weeks and hopefully help us to pick things up quickly if anyone gets lost or disorientated and increasingly allow us to focus on the striking.

Meanwhile, at the scene of our still barely-believed qualification last month, a quarter-peal of Cambridge Surprise Maximus was being rung by a local band, further evidence of how competition ringing has helped boost ringing on higher numbers.

Finedon.Elsewhere beyond our borders there was ringing on fewer than twelve bells, but notable nonetheless, especially at Finedon in Northamptonshire, where celebrity vicar the Reverend Richard Coles retirement from there was marked with a PR friendly peal of Don't Leave Me This Way Delight Major in a nod to his past life as a member of The Communards!

In between our ringing though, we weren't far away from that 1294 in Bury St Edmunds, as we were making a first visit to the new abode of my brother Chris and his wife Becky in a nearby village. Very nice it was too on another sunny spring day that allowed the boys to run around the garden before and after a lunch very generously provided by our hosts. Thank you Mr & Mrs Munnings!

And it recharged our batteries nicely for some more twelve-bell ringing!

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Saturday 23rd April 2022

2005. That's the last time I didn't attend a Suffolk Guild AGM. At the time, I was still living in the West Midlands, but having returned to the homeland later that year, I have been at every AGM (albeit only virtually for the last two) and having been elected as SGR Ringing Master at the 2006 meeting in Bury St Edmunds I have felt what is these days referred to as 'invested' in proceedings. It isn't exciting, but it is important.

Today though, we were unable to attend the 2022 meeting at Drinkstone Village Hall and join the many friends we are blessed to have through the art within our borders. All for a good cause though. This year, the boys have had to put up with either being passed over to very patient relatives who have been extremely generous with their time whilst we go ringing or they have had to come with us, often reluctantly. Therefore, when Alfie was invited to a birthday party at Jump In at Ipswich for just when we were planning on mingling ahead of our first ringers' tea since 2019, we felt it would be incredibly unfair for him to miss out on this occasion. And so instead of munching on the tea very kindly put together by the local ringers in a hall overlooking the open, sunbathed countryside of the west of county and experiencing ringing democracy in action, we were wandering the grim urban surroundings of Anglia Retail Park and taking Joshua to the Castle Hill Recreation Ground that my brother Chris and I used to play at and treating him (Josh, not Chris!) to a Peppa Pig ice cream lolly. I can't say that I wouldn't have preferred for us to all have been in Drinkstone and for the timings to have worked out better, but actually it was lovely to see them so happy and enjoying themselves. We're glad we made the decision we did, sorry as we were to miss the event taking place less than twenty miles up the A14.

Great Finborough. Great Finborough.  The view of Buxhall across the fields from Great Finborough ringing chamber. Buxhall. Buxhall. Hitcham.

Besides, we were able to at least take in much of the ringing that led up to the main event before we had to facilitate Alfred's social life, starting with Great Finborough with its wonderful views from the ringing chamber to Buxhall where we went to next to ring on one of the county's new eights, before moving on to another of them at Hitcham. Sadly, there weren't enough ringers to make the most of the overlapping times of the open towers which also included Rattlesden and Woolpit where we didn't get to, as there were only just enough to man all the bells so it wasn't possible to nip off to another tower without leaving others in the lurch. Still, it was great to ring on two of the youngest octaves in the Guild and to ring with three learners from Bildeston who were entering into the spirit of this event, which is a chance for ringers of all abilities to ring together and hopefully for the learners in particular to benefit. Nice also to chat with Nicola & Malcolm Currie at Hitcham who gave a fascinating insight into the project that they had helped drive and which has benefitted not just ringing, but the church itself by providing a superb new space and facilities below the gallery reinstated for the ringers.

The meeting itself was apparently relatively brisk, with the biggest issue being the introduction of a rate for members over eighty years old and attended by around seventy-five members, which in circumstances where some are still anxious about meeting in large crowds is reasonable. And of course the tea was lovely!

As was ours as it happens, as we met with Ruthie's schoolfriend Verity and her fiancée Jade at the Coach & Horses for a meal, although I think I would have preferred the slab of cod that one of our party had to the much smaller asparagus and tagliatelle I had. That'll teach me to attempt to be posh!

Meanwhile, it is worth noting that there won't be a practice at the 8cwt gallery-ring six at Sproughton next Wednesday on 27th April, so although you would be welcome any other week, please don't turn up expecting ringing this time!

Beccles.However, please do turn up at the next Suffolk Guild AGM, which is due to be held on Saturday 15th April 2023 at Beccles. God willing, we will be able to.

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Friday 22nd April 2022

St Mary-le-Tower. Guildford Cathedral, the South Front. - - 136670 It is almost a month since St Mary-le-Tower qualified from the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest eliminator at The Norman Tower and just over a couple of months until we are due to ring in the Final at Guildford Cathedral. Since that day in Bury St Edmunds, we've been in a sort of limbo in regards to the competition. There was a session a couple of weeks ago which we couldn't make, but otherwise we have had a sensible breather from the intense practicing of Stedman Cinques and in particular of the same touch!

However, our first practice for the final and of the new touch we'll need to familiarize ourselves with by the 25th June when we are due to ring it as the test piece is planned for this weekend, a peal of Stedman Cinques is penciled in and we have our invaluable pre-contest practice at the venue of Guildford Cathedral lined up in the coming weeks. And this evening we returned to the Maharani on Norwich Road in Ipswich for a curry that was part celebratory for our success a few weeks and I guess part team-bonding for the exciting adventure that we hope lays ahead over the next few weeks. To add to the sense of occasion, the vicar the Right Reverend Tom Mumford and his wife Laura were present, with Tom giving a very kind speech that even drew applause from our fellow diners for our achievements!

We had a very enjoyable night, topped by a swift drink in St Jude's Brewery Tavern down the road and all made possible by my mother Sally's generosity as she looked after the boys and then put us up for the night - thank you Mum!

Grote Kerk, Dordrecht. Grote Kerk, Dordrecht. Grote Kerk peal band.
Grote Kerk, The Bells & The Peal Band

Two people who may well have joined us for socialising in normal circumstances are Gill & David Sparling, the latter of who rang the treble superbly for our qualifying piece. However, they were otherwise engaged today in the now famous Dutch ringing city of Dordrecht, as they rang a 1260 of Stedman Triples on the well-established 1cwt eight in the 't Klockhuys on the same day as Past Ringing Master at St Mary-le-Tower Simon Rudd was part of the band that rang in the first peal on the new 16cwt ten in the Grote Kerk. There was also a strong Rambling Ringers connection, with the hosts being fellow Ramblers the de Kok family, with Paul and his son Harm Jan doing an incredible job in putting the frame together and driving this project forward, especially over the last difficult couple of years. They rang in the 5040 of Bristol Surprise Royal, as did the daughter of the family Thirza (congratulations to her on obtaining her Bachelor's degree!), other Ramblers Stuart & Liz Hutchieson and Ruth & Paul Curtis who have also joined us on Tour and who on this occasion rang their 5000th peal together, a staggering achievement. Congratulations to them both.

Tostock.Perhaps less headline-grabbing, but worthy of mention though, is Clare Gebel ringing her most methods to a quarter-peal with the success at Tostock.

It is also in keeping with an upbeat day for ringing.

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Thursday 21st April 2022

St Mary-le-Tower. An email today from Stephen Cheek reminded me that St Mary-le-Tower Society of Change Ringers are having their AGM next Monday at 8.30pm, which of course will mean an early finish to the weekly session. All visitors are still welcome to join us ringing, but just be aware of the early finish if you do plan on coming along!

Redgrave.There was no ringing for Ruthie or me today, finishing early or otherwise, with even some eBell focus not possible this evening, but there was ringing for others in Suffolk, even if it was done in the name of the Norwich Diocesan Association Quarter Peal Week as a 1260 of Plain Bob Doubles was rung at Redgrave. Well done to Trevor Conway on ringing his first QP, Andrew Castleton on ringing his first inside for forty-seven years and congratulations to Chris Davies on ringing his 75th.

It was also one of many performances across the UK from Exeter to Newcastle rung for the 96th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, although there were no other ones noted in the county. However, it is a reminder that Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee is God willing just a few weeks away, so do make sure bells are a part of your local celebrations at some point over the four days between Thursday 2nd and Sunday 5th June and be sure to add it to BellBoard's event for the occasion.

And feel free to join us at St Mary-le-Tower on the evening of Monday 6th, when all being well we should ringing up to 9pm!

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Wednesday 20th April 2022

In my early years of ringing, along with my father Alan, mother Sally and brother Chris, I would spend almost every night out ringing. St Mary-le-Tower on a Monday, Offton on a Tuesday, Sproughton on a Wednesday, St Margaret's in Ipswich or Grundisburgh on a Thursday. A few years later, when I lived in Hollesley, mine and Ruthie's ringing week would be equally busy. There was still SMLT on a Monday and Grundisburgh on Thursdays, but also Pettistree on a Wednesday and the local eight on a Friday. Gradually, parenthood and particularly 24/7 parenthood has reduced how much we can and should get out to. After all, as we are unable to both get out together, we need some time for each other, especially as one of the nights sees my wife out singing.

Pandemics notwithstanding though, it has still been normal for one of us to be out on a couple of nights a week in recent years. Therefore, it has felt quite odd not to have done any ringing this week, as after me not getting along to the county town for my usual weekly dose of twelve-bell ringing on Monday due to bank holiday socialising, this evening there was no practice at the ground-floor six of St Peter and St Paul (where the South-East District Striking Competition is due to be held on Saturday 7th May), with a number away, injured or ill.

We were partially responsible for that decision, with our presence uncertain for otherwise happy reasons as we celebrated the birthday of the boys' cousin Anna at their Gran Kate's house, with cake, balloons and food aplenty. Happy Birthday Anna!

Bardwell. There was ringing in Suffolk today though, with a quarter-peal of Grandsire Triples rung at Bardwell.

I'm glad someone is doing some ringing this week.

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Tuesday 19th April 2022

On the East Anglian Daily Times website today there was a reminder that even where bells are ringing out in a landscape beneficial to them, things can change. Barham's new six currently sit in almost complete, glorious isolation to any houses or anyone that they might disturb. The fields right next to the church were in the news today for being sold to a housing developer looking to build hundreds of homes. It will mean that if all goes to plan, there will be a huge estate of homes within clear earshot of the bells, There has just been three quarters and a peal rung since they were augmented and rehung last year, so they haven't been reckless in their use of the bells, but if peals, quarters and potentially any other ringing is to be assured once their new neighbours appear, I hope that thoughts are already being given by local ringers and even the Guild as to how the potential of complaints (however unjustified they may seem) can be mitigated. Might there be an opportunity to ensure that buyers of these new houses are aware that there are regularly rung bells on their doorstep? Is there already sound control in? Part of the consent is an extension to the church grounds, so hopefully the developers will be fully aware of the church and all that happens there, but it may pay to be proactive on this. It would be a pity if all the hard work, money (including a grant from the SGR) and time to complete this project went to waste because of the grumbles of a newcomer being taken seriously.

The EADT wasn't all that I was reading today, as the latest edition of The Ringing World arrived with us this morning, full of plenty of varied and interesting content, from Alliance methods to a report on the Cambridge University Guild Annual Dinner, the 'roaring' return of the Roving Ringers to recollections of the life of Miss Doris Sheppard of Stroud in Gloucestershire. In between all that, there are Suffolk links, including a look back on a recent ringing trip to Lundy Island written by Norman Tower ringer Joan Garrett, a trip that was also joined by St Mary-le-Tower ringer and Guild Librarian Abby Antrobus and featured a quarter-peal rung in memory of Joan's fellow Bury St Edmunds ringer Marion Holland on the day of her funeral. Appropriately on the very next page, Marion's obituary appears, lovingly and touchingly written by her husband Ian.

there was a pre-practice 1270 of Double Norwich Court Bob Major at Offton ahead of local ringer Joanna Gray's forthcoming significant birthday, though it is worth noting that there is no practice at Pettistree on Wednesday evening, with it already known that there will be quite a lot of regulars absent for one reason or another, but all being well next week things ought to be back to normal, by which point God willing we would've had a very successful, well attended Guild AGM Day at Drinkstone. A good point to remind anyone wishing to be fed at the tea needs to get their names into Nigel & Astrid Gale by the end of tomorrow, Wednesday 20th April.

It is something to look forward to on a day that for me personally was overshadowed by news that someone I went to school with passed away suddenly and unexpectedly yesterday. Not someone I had seen for several years, but someone I had kept up with on Facebook, was of course my age and with a seven-year-old daughter. Such news is a sobering reminder of how fragile life is and how we can take nothing for granted, so we must make the most of it, especially with our families.

At the football.He was a season ticket holder at Ipswich Town too, so it seemed apt that I found myself at Portman Road with Mason this evening, watching the Tractor Boys draw 2-2 with Wigan Athletic. Alfie was there too with his Granny Kate in a different part of the stadium, having been give two tickets after a holiday football session with the ITFC Community Trust earlier in the week. There was a lot of noise too, so I hope they're not planning on building more houses nearby...

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Easter Monday 18th April 2022

Easter Monday is traditionally a day of 'big' peals, particularly peals at 'big' towers, often on twelve and today was no different. There were peals on twelve at Birmingham Cathedral, St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol, St Paul's Cathedral in London, Gloucester Cathedral, All Saints in High Wycombe, Wimborne Minster and Worcester Cathedral, whilst there was also a 5040 of Yorkshire Surprise Royal at Lichfield Cathedral.

Ruthie and I have done one of the 'big' ones before, ringing a 5042 of Swindon Surprise Maximus on the aforementioned 50cwt twelve in Bristol in 2007, although the only other one either of us had rung on this particular bank holiday was less exciting, ringing a 5055 of Grandsire Major at Grundisburgh the year before. However, on this occasion, there was no ringing for us, as instead we were meeting with our friends Charlotte & Gregory and their daughters and our Goddaughters Ava & Bea, first at Kingston Fields after a short adventure on the train, then at The Cherry Tree for food for the children, followed by a kebab for us adults on the way home.

The only downside was that we didn't finish in time for me to make it to St Mary-le-Tower's practice. I've mentioned before that as with other towers that hold their weekly session on a Monday, they can suffer from the timings of everything at this time of year. At many places, Holy Week means that the practice doesn't happen at all and then the following week the bank holiday is a time that can see people away or busy with other things that they usually wouldn't be doing on a Monday, as was the case with ourselves on this occasion. Hopefully they still had enough to have a productive evening.

Two places have announced on the Suffolk Guild Facebook page that they intend on practicing on Tuesday night this week are Bramford and St Margaret's in Ipswich, but there was no ringing in the county noted on BellBoard today. It seems to have been a busier day of ringing elsewhere.

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Easter Sunday 17th April 2022