A successful weekend

For once, everything proceeded exactly according to plan!

We started by slotting in an extra quarter on Friday evening. When I discovered that Matt would be arriving relatively early, I thought I'd better organise something to occupy us for the evening, so we rang Bob Major for Zoé's first handbell quarter. That means all three of our Sunday afternoon group have now rung quarters, with Zoé taking the plunge straight into Bob Major rather than Bob Minor.

On Saturday we started with a peal of Cambridge Royal, which we rang pretty well. It felt as if we were ringing quite briskly, so I was surprised to see that the time was as long as 2h54. We had a good rhythm throughout with no serious mistakes, and the outcome was never in doubt.

After that we rang a quarter of spliced CYN, using the Don Morrison composition with a change of method almost every lead. We rang rather more slowly than in the peal, and it was mostly good but I confess that the final half course was a little rough. However, I am trying not to say stand prematurely, which sometimes happens, and we persevered well until the end.

Having warmed up with the right place methods, we then switched to Bristol. For the first quarter we rang a snap start and the calling sW W sW W so that 5-6 would be coursing throughout. During the first course there was quite a lot of commentary as we worked out how everything fits together, but it improved steadily and the second half was rung convincingly.

I didn't really want to ring a composition with 5-6 coursing for a whole peal, so next we rang a conventional start with the calling sW sH sW sH. This is easier than W H W H because it keeps 3-4 in the 3-4 and coursing positions, and 5-6 in the 5-6 and 3-4 positions. We did well and by the end were ringing at what felt like high speed, almost too fast but we didn't dare try to slow down in case we disrupted the rhythm.

After a break for dinner we decided that we needed to ring the same composition again, which we did and produced the best of the three quarters of Bristol. Feeling confident, we decided to go for a peal of Bristol on Sunday morning.

As we had been ringing 4th place bobs, which we are generally more familiar with, I decided to call the Anthony Carter composition:

5040 Bristol Surprise Royal
Anthony R Carter

M  W  H  23456
   s  s  54326
s  s  5  23465
5 = - - s - - 

This is the latest addition to my list of favourite compositions. It breaks down into four distinct quarters. The first consists of everything up to the first bob home. The calling is the usual kind of manoeuvring to get 5-6 swapped, and it keeps 3-4 in the 3-4 position while 5-6 also ring some 3-4 position. The first bob home puts 3-4 into coursing and marks the beginning of the second quarter, in which 5-6 are in their home position (but reversed) and 3-4 ring four 8-lead courses of coursing. The halfway change is 1234657890 and then you ring everything again.

The first and third quarters, with 3-4 in the 3-4 position, are more difficult but the nice thing is that the last quarter of the peal is one of the easy ones. It finishes with two homes, giving two comfortable courses with 5-6 at home and 3-4 coursing the natural way round.

I felt I was getting to grips with conducting Bristol. It's really easy to observe the coursing order, and in this composition the coursing orders are fairly easy ones to remember. I've learnt a lot about how to announce the landmarks, by ringing online with David Brown and Peter Randall. One aspect is taking advantage of the wrong dodges, announcing "dodge above" or "dodge below" if necessary. When both are combined, everyone except the bell that's dodging 5-6 with the treble get an anchor point. Another thing is that I am now announcing the points with more advance notice than I used to. I had been in the habit of saying "backstroke point" either on the point blow itself or on the immediately preceding handstroke, but now I am usually saying it on the backstroke with a whole pull's warning. This gives everyone time to see where they should be aiming for, assuming they can remember which point they are supposed to be doing next. I still find it difficult to pinpoint exactly which point blow a particular bell should be doing, or to work out which place bells someone is.

The Inveraray party came back mid-afternoon, by which time Nick and Peter had gone home. But we managed half a course of Cambridge Maximus with Tina, Angela and Jess Durham, which was not bad considering how little we've rung it.

Finally, we rounded off the weekend with a quarter of Cambridge Minor in the tower.