The New Year holiday seems to be a popular time for intensive handbell ringing. On Saturday 31st December there were 9 quarters at 26 Wilsthorpe Road, Breaston. On Monday 2nd January there were 6 quarters at 64 Mount Pleasant Road, Exeter. We had a modest handbell day at Tulloch Lodge on Monday 2nd, enjoying the hospitality of Helen McGregor and Peter Bevis. Most of the sessions were general practice, including good progress by two of the Tulloch local band, and we even managed to refresh our children's memories of Plain Bob Minor. Thomas got really keen and worked his way up to three leads of Kent Major on the tenors.
We rang just the one quarter, of Cambridge Major. One of our aims for this year is to give Tina and Jonathan more practice at conducting, so Tina called the quarter of Cambridge. She called a handbell-friendly composition by Steve Coleman: 5 befores, single home, repeated. Because there's a before in every course, the tenors only ring the first two leads and the last two leads of the course, so it's just two leads and their reverses. It's also a good composition for 5-6, as the 5 befores keep them coursing most of the time, and the 2nd is unaffected except for making one bob in each half.
We also had a sneak preview of the new handbell version of the "learning the ropes" teaching scheme by ART. There's a logbook with targets at each of five levels, ranging from plain hunting positions on six through to a quarter of treble bob. When it's accompanied by a set of teaching materials, it will be interesting to see whether it can encourage the teaching of handbell ringing alongside tower bell ringing, or indeed as a separate activity. I expect we will have more to say about this once the scheme is launched officially.
In Scotland we get an extra holiday for 2nd January, postponed this year to Tuesday 3rd because of the weekend, and we took advantage of it by ringing a peal of Cambridge Royal with the help of Julia Cater from the "southern branch". Once again I called the composition that I have written about before, in which 3-4 and 5-6 only ring two positions each. It's two years since we last rang a quarter of Surprise Royal, and three years since our last peal, but we were pleased to find that we haven't forgotten how to do it. If everyone can basically ring it, there's no danger of firing out, but we have to be careful to minimise trips (usually missed dodges) because they disrupt the rhythm.
Forthcoming plans include more Horton's Four, of course, and a peal of Pudsey with Mike and Ian.