Proliferating Projects

For one reason and another, we seem to have an ever-increasing number of different combinations of people coming to ring more or less regularly. There's our "core four", of course. Despite trying to coordinate Seph with the core four in order to do some 10-bell ringing, we've slipped back into a pattern of 6-bell ringing with Seph and without Jonathan and Angela. Nick is coming about once a month for 10-bell ringing, and more recently we've started a different 8-bell band with Marcus, while Angela is spending some time finishing her MSc.


We organise our sessions around projects, rather than just getting together for general ringing. We like having a focus, and we like extending our repertoire. So usually we have a quarter peal project on the go, and something more difficult that we're practising, which will eventually become the next quarter peal project. A typical evening session consists of a quarter peal (attempt), followed by refreshments, followed by practice. Depending on which band is here, there's often a bit of SACR business too. Anyway, the increasing number of bands means an increasing number of projects:

  • With Jonathan and Angela, the main project is a peal of 8-spliced. We can't arrange peal attempts very often, so meanwhile we're keeping in practice by ringing quarters of 8-spliced with different compositions. We've just started getting to grips with Glasgow, so that will become the next quarter peal project when we think we've spent enough time on 8-spliced.
  • With Seph, the current project is a quarter of Beverley, which we've lost once so far. After that we'll bring in Surfleet, Berwick and Hexham, and aim for a quarter of 4-spliced. After our quarter peal attempts, we practise Cambridge with Seph on an inside pair.
  • With Nick, we've been working our way through Cambridge, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Royal. Next time he comes we'll go for a peal of Cambridge. After our last quarter, of Lincolnshire, we had a go at Littleport as a step towards Bristol. This led to a discussion about whether, on 10, London might be easier than Bristol, which would be the opposite of our experience on 8. If we get our peal of Cambridge, the next quarter peal project might be spliced Cambridge, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and we'll keep working on Littleport or maybe London.
  • Marcus is keen on working back up to his former repertoire, so we've arranged a quarter of 4-spliced Surprise Major (CYNR) for next week, and maybe we'll practise some Bristol afterwards.

Meanwhile, this Saturday is the SACR AGM and striking competition, so we'll take some handbells along and see who wants to do some ringing in between our competition touches.

The 7th Scottish Handbell Day

Our seventh Scottish Handbell Day started with Plain Bob, finished with Glasgow and in between there was a lot more Plain Bob, fun with other plain methods, extremely satisfactory plain hunting, and well, just more fun.

We had a smaller pool of ringers on this day, which sometimes isn't a bad thing, and we welcomed three new faces to the handbell day: Margaret, Colin and Isabel.  And we were pleased to help Isobel get her first quarter in hand.

We were also joined for a session by three pupils from the Mount Vernon Handbell Club sessions, and were able to give each of them a boost forward - especially Ben, one of our newest ringers.  He had never plain hunted before, and by the end of his session was ringing Plain Hunt Minimus with great confidence.

We spent more sessions than usual on practices instead of quarter peals, so our performance count is lower than in previous years.  However, the whole day seemed to us to be a useful mixture of attempting some ambitious things and taking advantage of a pool of ringers to help consolidate existing skills.  We did ring a quarter peal of Bristol Major, which was bumpy but satisfying.

After Simon's usual sumptuous tea, most of our ringers started heading home, and is is usual now for the final gasps of a handbell day, we gathered together the remaining ringers and made them ring 3 leads of Kent Maximus.  I know Colin and Isobel didn't think it was possible, but they were wrong!  I am not sure whose idea it was then to try a course of Glasgow, but we did it (although I am not sure how).

The next handbell day is the first Saturday in October.

Scottish Association
1 Albany Quadrant
Saturday 11 May 2013
1344 Plain Bob Major
1-2   Robin R Churchill
3-4   Julia R Cater
5-6   Jonathan S Frye (C)
7-8   Isabel Crane
First in hand: 7-8.
Scottish Association
1 Albany Quadrant
Saturday 11 May 2013
1344 Plain Bob Major
1-2   Seph Shewell Brockway
3-4   Stephen A Elwell-Sutton
5-6   Colin P North
7-8   Simon J Gay (C)
First away from the tenors: 5-6.


Scottish Association
1 Albany Quadrant
Saturday 11 May 2013
1312 Bristol Surprise Major
1-2   Angela H Deakin
3-4   Julia R Cater
5-6   Tina R Stoecklin
7-8   Simon J Gay (C)

The long road to Lincolnshire (and other places)

This morning I came across an interesting blog post on productivity, which is titled 'The McDonald's Theory' (there's a link at the bottom of this post).  The theme is how to get started on a project, particularly a difficult, long, or still rather amorphous project.  The conclusion: just start, even start with a deliberately bad idea (in his extended example, the author jump starts a discussion on where to have lunch by suggesting McDonald's, and by having a concrete idea that everyone rejects, generates much better lunch ideas, and actually leaves time for having lunch too).

I recognised much of this in our approach to ringing handbells.  Quite often we will try to ring something we know we can't do, just to see how far we get.  Then next week we will try it again, and try to get farther, and it isn't long before it becomes one of our little (or extended) projects.  Once you give something a try, the goals start defining themselves.

Some of the ideas we try really are rubbish, and go no further than the first try.  But it has a use, we learn something, and it is a pretty good motivator for doing your homework better for next week in order to avoid that rubbish again.

It is the same for anyone just starting to learn to ring handbells, or in fact for a new handbell group.  Just start ringing and see how far you get.  Don't worry about being rubbish.  Assume you won't get very far: now you are free not to worry about it.  You might surprise yourself.

What does this have to do with Lincolnshire?  Well, we have had a good couple of weeks, which started with a quarter peal of Lincolnshire Royal.  This itself was following a fairly dismal couple of weeks of pure ringing frustration for everybody, but Simon insisted that the quarter would go.  'We haven't lost a quarter of Surprise Royal yet,' he said blithely. 'Yet', I replied darkly.

And it did go, even though we hadn't really practiced it much together.  And we have had a couple of productive sessions with Seph, and we rang a very satisfactory peal of Stedman Caters, and all in all, this handbell stuff is getting a little bit easier.

If we can do it, so can you.  Pick up a pair of bells, give something a go, see where your road eventually takes you.


For those who want to read the McDonald's Theory for themselves: (and thanks to Peter Sheppard for bringing it to my attention)

Going back to basics is never a waste of time

In the face of tonsilitis, winter vomiting bug, holiday schedules, the midwinter bellringing blues and the continued absence of our increasingly awesome head conductor, we met again to ring handbells with Marcus.

(I know it is April and therefore technically spring.  But, you know, only technically.  The body clock is saying 'Hello! still hibernating here!'.  Yes, it is still pretty cold).

This time we followed our now standard routine and went for a quarter of Yorkshire, which, as previously agreed, Jonathan called and Angela conducted.  It worked quite well, and we dragged it round.  It wasn't perfect, and it took a few nervous starts to get properly going.  After each hesitation, we recovered speed and rhythm and pushed on, and everyone was quite pleased. It turns out that it was probably Marcus' first in that method off the tenors - or at least the first time 'for flipping ages'.

So, these days we are all feeling pretty confident ringing Yorkshire, nevertheless, there are still things to learn about it and about its structure.  There are still ways to apply oneself to being a more confident ringer, and providing a good structure for any less confident ringer.  Everyone last night had a chance to flex some new muscles, within the framework of a pretty comfortable method.  It is true:  going back to basics is never a waste of time.

It was just left to find an appropriate footnote to send up with the quarter - to show Simon we are still thinking of him.  After spending a ridiculous amount of time with various wordings, we came up with a silly verse:

Scottish Association
1 Albany Quadrant
Monday 1 April 2013
1280 Yorkshire Surprise Major
1-2   Angela H Deakin
3-4   Tina R Stoecklin
5-6   Marcus A Wheel
7-8   Jonathan S Frye (C) For Simon Gay, who is away: we have stayed on course today!

Oh, and the midwinter bellringing blues?  That is really a tower bell thing.  We'll solve that too, eventually.

Not so rudderless ringing

One of the things that came out of the aftermath of Roger Bailey's death and subsequent memorial arrangements was that Marcus Wheel has officially come out of handbell retirement.

Our sitting room - several sets of handbells and the Handbell Club hunting charts

Four of us met last night for a pretty lighthearted evening of ringing, which included courses of Cambridge, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, with some ringing of different pairs by some of the band.  It was a pleasant evening, as these evenings are.

We were without Simon, who keeps us sorted out and pushes us on.  And, in the organisation of the evening I had failed to nominate a 'person in charge'.   Instead, everyone stepped up and made a contribution to helping each other out.

But mostly, it was Angela, who not only did her usual job of keeping the treble straight and steering it through some slightly lost ringers, but also took on the mantle of issuing the 'getting in sync' instructions.  These are very helpful instructions like 'hunting above the treble', 'dodging at the back', and so on.  Obviously her success as a handbell tutor at the most recent Scottish Association training day is starting to pay off.

Next week we are going to try a quarter peal, which will no doubt be a cooperative effort too.



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