We had planned a session with Nick today, as he was going to be passing through central Scotland. It could have been a Cambridge Maximus session, but we didn't manage to find a sixth person, so we decided to work on London and Bristol Royal. We were fairly confident that we would be able to ring a quarter of London, as we have reached the halfway point of a peal a couple of times in the past - and indeed we did ring a quarter at the second attempt (I miscalled the first one). So that's our first publishable performance of London Royal. It still takes a lot of concentration, which was the problem with our peal attempts. Maximum concentration isn't sustainable for a whole peal, so it's a question of practising until we can ring the method with less concentration.
After a short break, we had a go at Bristol. We found it much harder. By practising leads again and again, and restarting at suitable points each time we fired out, we eventually rang every lead of the plain course, just not all joined together. It was a huge advance though. We've gone from never having tried it with this band (Nick and I have rung it in the distant past, but the other three haven't) to seeing that if we practise a bit more we should be able to do it.
Jonathan commented that he found London easier with people than with Abel, but he found Bristol easier with Abel. I think that's because we were all better at ringing London. If the band can basically ring the method, then ringing with the band enables one to benefit from the collective help and comments on the treble's position and so on. But if the whole band is struggling with the method, then it's much more difficult than ringing with the computer.
We're hoping to get Nick back for another session at the end of July. If we all manage to fit in some Abel practice in the meantime, we should have a good chance of ringing a clean plain course.