23-spliced in our sights

So, this past weekend we had an intensive weekend of 23-spliced practice with Jonathan and Angela, starting on Friday evening and continuing through to Sunday afternoon.  It was a great success and pushed us much farther forward than we expected.

Our aim was to just keep working as far as we could through Simon's plan for preparing for 23-spliced, with alternating ringing and studying/feeding/sleeping. 

On Friday night we had another attempt at the second quarter in Simon's plan (with Preston, Uxbridge, Ashtead and Cray), and got nearly to the end before blowing it out again, a couple of times.  Not a great start.  After some discussion we decided to move on and not get hung up on actually getting to the end of a quarter, as it was all meant to practice the methods.  So we finished the evening with a plain course of Whalley, and determined a plan for Saturday.

Saturday saw us up in the morning for a successful quarter peal of Whalley, and it was a nice encouragement to complete a piece of ringing.  We finished the morning by trying some plain course of the other featured methods in the next quarter (Lindum, Watford, Cornwall).  Then we stopped for lunch and some studying for the next quarter attempt.  We got nearly to the end of that one too, but blew out on brain freeze by the conductor.  It did not take much discussion for us to feel that we had adequately practiced those methods.  Lindum, Watford and Cornwall have their little traps, but are pretty straightforward, and Whalley didn't end up nearly as hard as we feared.  In fact, like Bristol, Whalley has these clear sections of right-hunting that are immensely stabilising and help to keep your bells in sync.  Get the starts right and you are off.

So, we retired to various parts of the house to swot up for the next group of methods:  Double Dublin, Cassiobury, Ipswich and Tavistock.  This group turned out to be not so very easy.  Tavistock is always one of the tricksier methods in this group, and we had definitely underestimated how horrible Double Dublin is for handbell ringing.  All the pointy bits of work overlap slightly and if you are ringing 2nd, 7th, or 8ths place bell is it very easy to get one of your bells out of sync.  In fact, the 2-7 or 2-8 lead is just the worst. 

Of course Double Dublin isn't all that hard in theory - it is really getting used to a different pattern shape.  But we definitely underestimated it.

We were nearing the end of the day, and I suggested we could do with more time on that last quarter, and finished the day with some intensive practice on those last few methods.

By Sunday morning we were a bit groggier and not quite as alert as the previous morning.  However, we had an hour's window to tackle the final quarter of the practice series.  Still no luck in getting all the way to the end, but it was a useful practice.  At this point we had the opportunity for a long study break, so we decided to try to put all the methods together and ring a whole part after lunch.  

And we did.  We went for the final part, as I thought it would be good to practice starting from the end.  We were also warned that the sixth part was really hard, so it made sense to work backwards.  

So.  The final part.  No problem.  So we spent the remainder of Sunday afternoon, until Evensong ringing required our presence elsewhere, picking our way through the first part, cold, and identifying the points we needed to work on.

All in all, it was a very encouraging (and tiring) weekend, and pushed us to a point where we all think this might just go.  There is a lot of work ahead of us still.  We need to improve our resiliency and accuracy, and in general up our game quite a lot.  But we have a lot of practices scheduled in the coming weeks, and another part of a weekend roped off.  We'll keep you posted.