January 2020

First quarter with our new local 10-bell band

Yesterday we managed to get all five of us together for the first time, and we rang a nice quarter of Cambridge Royal. Tina called it, which was a first for her, and it was Peter's first of surprise royal. The composition was one we have often used: sM, sW, sM, repeated, which keeps 3-4 unaffected throughout. It's four full courses, i.e. 1440, but it's very tempting to bring it round by plain hunting at the Wrong lead end after the last sM. Somehow it feels undesirable though, even though with the current Central Council decisions, it could be classified as pure Cambridge with a 10ths place bob (it is no longer necessary for a bob to change the coursing order).

Anyway, it was satisfying to ring a nice quarter at the first attempt, especially as we haven't done much 10-bell ringing for a while. We'll probably ring a couple more of Cambridge, switching the pairs around, and then move on to Lincolnshire.

Plans for 2020

We've got a whole new year stretching ahead of us, ready to be filled with handbell projects. Here are some that come to mind.

  • The most significant development is that we have an extra ringer for our regular band in Glasgow: Peter Kirton, who has just finished a couple of years of working in Vienna and has taken a job at Strathclyde University. I hope we will be able to get all five of us together often enough to develop our 10-bell ringing, but having an extra person will also mean that we can still do 8-bell ringing if one of us is unavailable. What I would really like to to do is get to be able to ring Bristol Royal with our local band - so my goal for the year is to ring a peal. We will have to work through some right-place surprise royal methods with Peter first, as well as extending his 8-bell repertoire (we're going for a quarter of Bristol Major tomorrow). If we can get a good regular surprise royal band, we will have a much better chance at surprise maximus when we can bring in Nick, James or Julia.
  • It would be good for Tina and Jonathan to conduct some peals; also Peter has conducted a few, but not surprise major yet. So diversifying the conducting will be a goal for this year.
  • My sister is getting married in July, so we would like to ring a peal for the occasion. She lives in Sheffield, so my idea is to ring a peal of Sheffield Surprise Major, which is Preston (familiar from Norman Smith's 23-spliced) with a 18 lead end. We've been ringing Preston recently as part of a spliced project, so we should be able to ring Sheffield. It's Glasgow above the treble, but a bit easier than Glasgow because it's right-place below the treble, and it has Plain Bob half leads, which means that all the bells are (briefly) hunting in coursing order around the half lead. As far as I can see from the standard reference sources, there hasn't been a peal of Sheffield on handbells, so we have an opportunity for a first.
  • In April, Tina is organising a ladies' weekend in Inveraray, so that people can experiment with ringing the back bells. To occupy some of the partners (what's the male equivalent of a WAG?) we're going to have a boys' handbell weekend. We should have a good band, so I hope we can ring a couple of peals - perhaps including Littleport Little Surprise Maximus as a foray into 12-bell ringing.
  • We could do with an 8-bell project to give us some focus when we're not ringing on 10. I would quite like to call Pitman's Four (London, Bristol, Cambridge and Superlative). Another possibility is that Graham John has a composition of 14-spliced surprise major, tenors together and all the work, consisting of the standard 8, the Nottingham 8, Belfast and Ashtead. We've rung all the methods before, so we might be able to manage it, although the composition will take some learning.

That should keep us going for most of the year! Watch this space for progress reports.