This visit took place in Staffordshire while celebrating the 80th birthday of my dad, Phil Gay, but they do say that the best parts of Derbyshire are in Staffordshire.
The original plan didn't involve handbells at all. I was invited to ring a tower bell peal on dad's bells, which are the light ring of eight (not a mini-ring!) at Woodlands, Keele. He had the clever idea of ringing 5080 of Yorkshire by ringing the first four leads as Yorkshire Alliance and then changing to Yorkshire Surprise. As a lead of Yorkshire Alliance is 30 rows, starting with a 5088 and replacing four leads with Yorkshire Alliance gives the desired length. In Yorkshire Alliance the treble does cat's ears at the back instead of treble bob, 3rd place bell fits around it, and all the other place bells simply omit the half lead dodge. Because the half lead is at handstroke, it's possible to have an even number of dodges across it (two in the case of 2nd and 5th place bells, zero for the others) without any wrong-place work. Strange but true. Also true in the technical sense, because the method just omits two rows from Yorkshire Surprise.
At some point the plan expanded to include ringing a handbell peal with Paul and Ruth Jopp and Simon Humphrey - all from Derbyshire, Paul and Simon being part of a regular band, Ruth more occasional. This was a good opportunity because although I rang a lot of online quarters, and a peal, with Simon during the pandemic, I had not previously met him in person.
Unfortunately we lost the tower bell peal because of a mechanical problem, but we rang a good quarter after doing the necessary repair work. 1280 of Yorkshire (no Alliance), an appropriate and easy length to get. In the afternoon we set out for Yorkshire (purely Surprise) on handbells but it didn't go; we then tried a peal of Kent instead, which also didn't go, and eventually scored another quarter of Yorkshire.
Before starting the tower bell quarter of Yorkshire, I was having difficulty remembering a composition for 1280. Ignoring people waving phones with complicated offerings from Composition Library (my phone is out of action, but that's another story) and trying to avoid going to find my computer, I picked up an old Ringing World Diary (there were several within range) and found this one listed for Cambridge:
1280 Cambridge Surprise Major M B W H 23456 ----------------- 3 64523 - - 35426 - 3 23456 -----------------
It's true to Yorkshire as well, of course (Cambridge has BDE in-course falseness but Yorkshire only has B) and fairly musical. The coursing orders 46532, 24653, 24536 and 25346 all produce four-bell runs at the back and/or front.
This week is even more intensive for ringing than usual. On Sunday we had a handbell session with Dorothy (none of the other Sunday ringers were available this time) as well as morning ringing and an evening quarter in the tower. On Monday we attempted a quarter of Remus and rang almost three courses before collapsing. We'll try again next week. Today I have described, and tomorrow we're going for a peal of London Major on handbells with Mike. That will be a challenge because we haven't rung it for a while, although we did get quite proficient at one time. More about that later.