A good start to this year's campaign

Last time we rang with Jonathan and Angela, we booked yesterday for a possible handbell peal attempt, but agreed that if the weather was suitable, we would go out for a walk instead. It was a nice dry day (although not as clear as the previous day), so we climbed Ben A'an, a small but lovely hill in the Trossachs. Afterwards we rang a quarter of Cooktown Orchid, thereby ticking off the first of the methods of the month.

We rang the cyclic 7-part composition from the Christmas Ringing World:

1344 Cooktown Orchid Delight Major

- 2357486
- 2378564
7 part

It went smoothly with only a few small trips. We had all learnt the method only the day before, so it was a good achievement to ring it without difficulty. The composition is quite musical: 69 runs of 4 or more bells at the front or back, which is not bad for a quarter. The method is straightforward, with some similarities to Lessness, for example the beginning of 3rd place bell. There's a 1256 in the place notation when the treble dodges in 3-4, which I don't think we have encountered in any of the other methods we've rung on handbells. Making 2nd and 6th places simultaneously was a new experience.

We've had success before with learning a new method and ringing it on handbells: Bushey, Aardvark and Golden Wedding Anniversary. In fact Aardvark and Golden Wedding Anniversary are more difficult than Cooktown Orchid. But in the past we have used handbell-friendly composition, certainly with the tenors together and sometimes with another pair coursing throughout. This is the first time we have rung a cyclic composition to an unfamiliar method. I found that I had to concentrate hard on the method, and it was difficult to think about coursing orders. However, when thinking about the calling and the coursing orders beforehand, I found that this particular cyclic part end (14567823) provides a fairly straightforward way of working with the coursing orders for each part.

Start by thinking of the coursing order of the plain course as 2468753.

The effect of the two bobs at the beginning of the part is that the bells that started in 2nd and 3rd places (this is 2 and 3 for the first part) stay together but move two positions in the coursing order, so that they go between the bells that started in 7th and 8th place (7 and 8 for the first part). The new coursing order is 4683275.

In the next part, the two bells from opposite ends of the coursing order (the way I have written it - they are adjacent in the cyclic sense, and therefore coursing) move so that they go in between the bells that were in 7th and 8th places at the part end (this is now 2 and 3). The new coursing order is 6835427.

What's happening is that the coursing order is progressively turned inside out - we can see 3542 as a developing sequence of odds then evens, but they are each in the reverse order.

The next coursing order is 8357642, which extends the odds then evens pattern by another step.

Next we get 3572864, which corresponds to the part end 13456782, with 2 between 7 and 8 in the coursing order. This is the maximum amount of inside-out-ness; it's almost the complete reverse of the plain course coursing order except that 2 is in the wrong place.

Next comes 5724386, and the sequence 243 is the beginning of something more familiar from tenors-together coursing orders such as 52436.

Next is 7246538, with the tenors together again; more usually we would think of this coursing order as 8724653 or just 24653.

Finally, 7 and 8 move to go between 6 and 5, giving 2468753, which is back to the plain course.

Writing out the corresponding sequence of coursing orders on 12 makes the progressive turning inside-out even more obvious:


I don't think we'll be ringing cyclic maximus any time soon, but I would like to master the coursing orders for cyclic major. Of course an alternative is to develop the ability to transpose and remember tenors-parted coursing orders in general, which will take more practice.

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