Normally we organise handbell days twice per year, in May and October, with a combination of quarter peals and practice sessions. We've missed the last three because of the pandemic, but yesterday we restarted with a small-scale event involving 12 people.
The morning focused on getting our three new Glasgow handbell ringers to make the transition from Ringing Room to live ringing. They did well, first in 6-bell groups and then in 8-bell groups. Our plan for continuing with them is to ring on Sunday afternoons, maybe later converting to an open practice and inviting other members of the Glasgow tower bell band.
The afternoon wasn't planned in advance, beyond noting that we would have 9 people and therefore would probably split into an 8-bell group and a 10-bell group in each session. We prioritised giving Timothy a good go. He's an experienced tower bell ringer but currently has limited opportunities due to living on the Isle of Arran - but he took up online handbell ringing last year and has become one of the main activists in Handbell Stadium.
One of Timothy's requests was Stedman, either triples or caters. We hardly ever ring Stedman with our usual bands, but Tina, Julia and I all enjoy it, so we had a session of exploring plain courses on different pairs and some simple touches. After that we threw Timothy into the deep end with a quarter of Kent Royal, only discovering afterwards that it was his first handbell quarter as well as his first ever attempt at 10-bell handbell ringing. The quarter went very well and was promising for future developments.
Apart from that, there were two sessions of Cambridge Royal - one of them a quarter - and a session of Cambridge Major with Timothy. Everyone enjoyed themselves and it was good to get back to something more normal.
Today we attempted a peal of Cambridge Maximus with our usual five plus Julia. Although we knew it was ambitious, we were encouraged by ringing a plain course quite well yesterday evening. Unfortunately the peal didn't go, but we rang a quarter that contained a lot of very good ringing (as well as some scruffy patches). It was good progress, as the first handbell quarter of a "normal" surprise maximus method (we've rung Bourne before, which is only a small step beyond Kent) by a Scottish Association band.