Pickled Eggs: Cornwall

I've already written briefly about Cornwall and its inclusion in the "Core Seven", but this week we tried to ring a peal of it, so I have more to say. I've included the grid and the lines for each pair (from Martin Bright's Method Printer), for reference.

Between Christmas and New Year we rang two peals with Julia and Nick, of Lessness and Pudsey. We were also considering Cornwall, but we decided each time that first Lessness and then Pudsey would be safer options. We then arranged another peal date, with the idea of finally trying Cornwall, which is what we did on Monday.

The method is mainly treble bob hunting, but it's out of step between the front four places and the back four places. How it feels to ring depends on whether or not your bells are in the same half of the change. If they are, then you can be doing either some four-bell coursing or some four-bell opposites, which are really as good as each other. If your bells are in opposite halves of the change, then one bell hunts while the other bell dodges, then vice versa, alternately. The feel of the different positions (3-4, 5-6, 7-8) depends on how much your bells are in step and how much they are out of step.

Dodging with one bell and hunting with the other bell, for long periods, is usually a characteristic of ringing the trebles - for example it happens a lot in Cambridge. It takes concentration, and if you lose track of it, it can be difficult to fit back in. During the peal attempt, we found several times that missing a dodge (typically one of the double dodges on the front in 2nd and 4th place bells) led to desynchronisation and confusion. We found that it can fall apart very quickly - almost as much as Plain Bob Minor.

This was quite a surprise to me. We've rung Cornwall in Norman Smith's 23-spliced, but only one lead at a time, and in the Nottingham 8, but again only in small bursts. We've rung a quarter of Cornwall before, but in a shorter length it's easier to find a composition that keeps pairs coursing and makes life easier. I was expecting that ringing a whole peal would need some concentration, but I wasn't really expecting to lose it.

Recovering from mistakes was made more difficult by the unfamiliar place bell order. In the methods we've rung a lot of, which have Cambridge or London place bell orders, I have a feel for the progression through the course, but I didn't have the same confidence with Cornwall. We were ringing 4th place bobs, which can change the length of the course, so that was an extra factor to catch me out.

Looking at the diagrams for each pair, we can see that 7-8 have some in-step work in 5 leads of the course, 3-4 have it in 3 leads, and 5-6 in only 1 lead. This gives a clear measure of their relative difficulty. The trebles are in-step half the time and have some in each lead of the course.

We had a false start of a couple of courses, started again, then broke down after about 5 courses. Then we managed to ring a quarter, with a different band placing so that Tina could try it inside. We have another peal date for that band in March, so we'll try again for Cornwall.

What about compositions? Cornwall has no in-course tenors-together falseness, so it should be possible to get a significant amount of coursing for 3-4 or 5-6 (or both). I decided to ring 4th place bobs, because that's what we always ring in spliced. I liked the idea of a composition based on blocks of 5 befores, along the lines of the compositions of Bristol by David Maynard and Roger Bailey that I have written about before. The idea is to construct a peal from 4 blocks of 5 befores, based on coursing orders in which both 3-4 and 5-6 are coursing. In each block of befores, 3-4 and 5-6 are each coursing for 4 courses and in the 5-6 position for the 5th course. If the blocks can be joined together, the result is a peal with at least 16 courses of coursing for both 3-4 and 5-6.

I played around with this idea for a while, but so far I haven't managed to link up 4 blocks in a good peal length. However, I discovered that a different composition of Bristol by David Maynard works directly for Cornwall, with a length of 5056 (for Bristol it's 5184). Here it is.

5056 Cornwall Surprise Major
David G Maynard

M B W H  23456
--------------
  5 - -  45236
  -      53462
- 5   -  24365
--------------
2 part

It does have 4 blocks of 5 befores, but in the first block of each part, only 5-6 are coursing. In the second block of each part, 5-6 and 3-4 are both coursing. The part end is the handbell-friendly 12436578, so 3-4 and 5-6 do exactly the same work in each part, but opposite ways around.

The way the composition is set out above is fine for Bristol, but for Cornwall it disguises the fact that the last line of the part has a course end between the middle and the first before. It's clearer to write it like this.

5056 Cornwall Surprise Major
David G Maynard

M B W H  23456
--------------
  5 - -  45236
  -      53462
-        43265
  5   -  24365
--------------
2 part

The course with a wrong and a home is 8 leads: the wrong prevents the tenor from becoming 8th place bell, and then the home is at the next lead. The course with just a middle is 4 leads, and doesn't include the before position. The final course, with a before and a home, is 4 leads.

We finally came unstuck at the first before of the second block in the first part. There had been some confusion towards the end of the course with the middle, with the result that I didn't spot the course end. When I noticed the tenor becoming 4th place bell, instead of interpreting it as a prompt to call a before at the next lead, it just made me think that we were still a long way from the course end. So I missed the bob, although probably we weren't in the right coursing order anyway. Julia then asked me whether there is a bob at every before position, and I realised that there is. That would have been worth noting explicitly from the beginning, but I missed it when studying the composition.

In these compositions with blocks of befores, it's lovely to be coursing for a few courses, but being thrown into the 5-6 position afterwards can be a shock. This time, Nick, who was ringing 3-4, found the opposite. In the first block of befores, he was ringing the 3-4 and 5-6 positions, and indeed this continued all the way to the middle. He then found it a shock to start coursing. So he rang the tenors for the quarter, to get some practice.

 

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